Causes of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Causes

What causes domestic abuse?

The causes of domestic violence are varied. Consider that during the period from 1993 to 2005, the average annual criminal domestic violence rate per 1,000 persons (age 12 or older) for intimate partners and/or relatives was 5.9 for females and 2.1 for males. These were actual physical attacks or threats to cause physical harm or death. Many more people are likely abused in silence or subjected to non-criminal forms of abuse like verbal or emotional abuse. The fact is that some things actually cause these numbers for abuse to go even higher under certain circumstances.

While the circumstances below do not cause domestic violence to actually happen (because only a person's behavior can inflict such harm), the situations below are proven through studies to correlate to increases in violence and abuse. The emphasis is on understanding these correlations so that solutions and help can be more effective in addressing the problems.


One consequence of poverty is a higher rate of domestic violence and, particularly, women need the help of shelters to avoid the choice between abuse or homelessness.

Alcohol Abuse

A cause of alcohol abuse is personal instability, and these same troubling characteristics lead already abusive people to perpetrate domestic violence, especially when combined with the decreased inhibition caused by intoxication.

Drug Abuse

Many of the same stresses and desires that cause substance abuse go hand in hand with domestic violence. And because drugs are addictive, cause further financial hardship, and further decay of health and relationships, the cycle of violence almost always will become worse without treatment for both the drug abuse and the domestic violence.


One of the causes of domestic violence and a fear that creates a mental and emotional trap...

While homelessness does not appear to make people violent, it has been shown that a home filled with domestic violence does lead to a higher rate of homelessness, especially among women and children. This is somewhat related to the conditions of poverty discussed here.

The Domestic Violence Cycle

The Domestic Violence Cycle is a circle that is continuous and never-ending unless the cycle of violence is broken. In this way, domestic violence cycle and the tendency toward domestic abuse is in and of itself one of the primary causes of domestic violence. The circle often starts in childhood where abuse is witnessed by a juvenile who is broken by these incidents to eventually become an abuser their self. Once the cycle starts tension builds, then an explosion occurs. After the first explosion, the cycle of violence causes the level of abuse to gradually escalate and become more tragic. 

Regardless of the cause, it is important that the victims of abuse get domestic violence help to stop the domestic abuse cycle.

Return from causes of domestic violence to the domestic violence help home page ... 

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Research from Princeton on the Underlying Causes of Intimate Partner Violence

Wolfe, David A. and Jaffe, Peter G., Emerging Strategies in the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Underlying Causes of Domestic Violence,  Journal Issue: Domestic Violence and Children, Volume 9 Number 3 Winter 1999, The Trustees of Princeton University, The Future of Children: A Collaboration of The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University andThe Brookings Institution, 2015.§ionid=1495