Violence Within the Family

· May 30, 2017

It is becoming more and more common to hear about the different types of violence which can take place within a family. There is domestic violence, gender-based violence and even child abuse or mistreatment. All of these are equally important in terms of their physical, psychological and social consequences.

The problem lies in the fact that not everybody is capable of differentiating, and therefore making the correct use of these terms. This is why I will try to explain in this article each of these variants of violence inside the family sphere.

Violence is not merely the act of killing another person. There is violence when we use a degrading word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey someone due to fear. So violence isn’t merely organized butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper”.
-Jiddu Krishnamurti-

angry woman
What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is one which is perpetrated within the family circle. It is any violence which is exerted over people who live together within a house, whether they are related by blood or not. This means domestic violence includes: aggression between man and wife, from parents to their children, from children to their parents. It also includes any other person who forms part of the family and lives with the aggressor, even if they are not biological children.

In other words, in terms of domestic violence, anyone can be an aggressor or a victim, as long as that person is a member of the same family circle. This applies even if they are not bound by blood. Sadly, the media tends to equate this type of aggression with gender-based violence. Yet, domestic violence is actually a much wider concept.

couple fighting and screaming

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence is every act of violence, whether it is physical and/or psychological, in which there is or used to be an affective or sentimental relationship comparable to a conjugal one between the aggressor and the victim. This aggression is perpetrated by a man to a woman. Yet, it is not linked to them living together.


Therefore, so that it can be considered a case of gender-based violence, the victim has to be a woman who used to have or has at the current moment a relationship with the aggressor. Also, there has to be evidence which supports it is a long-term affective relationship. This definition excludes sporadic relationships and friendships. All of this means that in order for the law to be applied to a possible aggressor, the sentimental relationship must be proven in a trial.

What is the difference?

So, what is the difference between domestic violence and gender-based violence, if it’s a man who is attacking a woman? The difference lies in the reason. In order for it to be named gender-based violence, the cause has to reside in the relationship of power between the genders. In other words, the submission of the woman under the violent domination of the man. This is why only women can be victims of gender-based violence.

Does this mean that women who assault men don’t exist? No, of course not. But, it is us women who are the ones dying, not them. In most cases, when the murder of a man by the hands of a woman occurs, according to the Observatory for Gender-Based Violence, it is linked to a long history of previous gender-based violence. So, the murder is in self-defense or in the defense of their children.

Thus, in the majority of the sentences for women due to cases against men, the mitigation of self-defense is used. Therefore, it is considered a minor crime. This used to be considered a misdemeanor, and it was recently changed in the Criminal Code.

“Sexual, racial, gender violence and other forms of discrimination cannot be eliminated from a culture without changing said culture.”
-Charlotte Bunch-

angry child
The difference between abuses, mistreatment and child rape

Unfortunately, adults aren’t the only ones within the family context who suffer or can suffer from some type of violence. There are also cases of abuse, sexual or not, mistreatment and rapes of children. These terms are not properly used in the media. Not when they happen during childhood, nor when it is being talked about in adult victims. It is also not well-used when it happens outside the family sphere.

The abuse can be physical, psychological or sexual. They are physical when the minor gets hurt or injured. Psychological when humiliations take place or there is harassment towards the child. Lastly, sexual when obscene acts are performed in front of the child or when sexual contact occurs.

Thus, the term abuse is much more ample and can include mistreatment, when only physical aggressions are committed. It can also include rape when sexual aggressions which imply carnal contact are committed. This doesn’t only include exhibitionism and obscene acts.

woman eavesdropping

Psychological intervention in the different types of family violence

Once we have recognized and differentiated the diverse terms discussed in this article, it is convenient to name the different types of recommended psychological interventions. But not just for the victims, for aggressors in these cases, too. Because they are both important.

In domestic cases where the child is the aggressor and his parents are the victims, what often takes place are important issues in communication. The child is trying to express an emotion, but he does not know how to do it appropriately. Besides, the parents have also not been able to communicate or establish guidelines for a healthy relationship either. That is why, what is often done are family interventions. These are used to foment communication and cohesion. On the other hand, individual interventions are also used for anger management or other skills.

When it comes to gender-based violence, the interventions performed for the victim are guided towards improving her self-seem, her independence, the acquisition of social skills and the overcoming of the trauma. For the aggressor, the interventions tend to be orientated towards reeducating him. Also, instilling in him patterns different from the ones fomented in our patriarchal society. Also, they are focused on anger management skills as well as communication skills, among others.

If the face of child abuse, especially the sexual kind, early intervention is very important. The reassignment of the meaning of that experience must be sought out. The treatment of the guilt and the establishment of a safe environment for the treatment of the trauma is also a priority. For the aggressors, the established programs for the control of sexual aggressions must be applied. The goal is their reintegration into society.