Domestic Violence Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3275 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children


[. . .] Kolbo, Blakely, and Engleman (1996) also reported that studies measuring the differences in physical health between children exposed to domestic violence and those from nonviolent homes did not find evidence of a causal link between exposure to violence and health problems in the children. Recent research has looked at more specific measures of emotional and cognitive functioning and how being exposed to domestic violence affects these domains.

Animal models have suggested that exposure to stress at a young age is associated with reductions in cortical volume. Koenen et al. (2003) assessed IQs for a sample of 1,116 monozygotic and dizygotic five-year-old twin pairs in England whose mothers reported experiencing domestic violence in the previous five years. The children who had been exposed to high levels of domestic violence had IQs that were a mean of eight IQ points lower than children who were not exposed to domestic violence. This relationship was maintained when controlling for maltreatment and genetic factors.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Research Paper on Domestic Violence Is an Ongoing Assignment

More recent research has also sought to determine specifically how witnessing domestic violence can affect children's psychological well-being. Maikovich, Jaffee, Odgers, and Gallop (2008) looked how externalizing and internalizing symptoms were distributed over children who reported witnessing domestic violence in their home and the amount of harsh physical discipline caregivers reported using with their children. They looked at nearly 3,000 children over the age of five who had been maltreated and exposed to domestic violence. Child Behavioral Checklist assessments were taken over several different periods and assessed via structural equation modeling. They found that children exposed to harsh discipline (especially physical and extreme chastising) did not demonstrated the decrease in externalizing behaviors (e.g., aggression, acting out, etc.) associated with normal development, whereas children exposed to domestic violence did not demonstrate the decrease in internalizing behaviors associated with normal development (e.g., depression, anxiety issues,. etc.). Interestingly, Taylor, Guterman, Lee, and Rathouz (2009) found that being a victim of domestic violence was a significant risk factor for maltreating children with harsh discipline in a sample of 2523 mothers. Numerous other studies have found that families with domestic violence have an increased risk of maltreating children (e.g., Koenen et al., 2003). Thus, the effects of domestic violence potentially affect children from both sides of the fence, so to speak.

Meta-analytic studies have been able to determine the most salient effects on children exposed to domestic violence. For example, Kitzmann, Gaylord, Holt, and Kenny (2003) reported that 63% of exposed children do more poorly than non-exposed children; however, the other 37% get on as well as or better than non-exposed children. Evans, Davies, and DiLillo (2008) analyzed at 60 studies that revealed effect sizes of .48 for internalizing and .47 for externalizing symptoms and exposure to domestic violence. A smaller number of studies (six studies) revealed an effect size of 1.54 for the relationship between exposure and childhood trauma symptoms. Gender was found to be a moderator for exposure and externalizing symptoms (males at higher risk). However, Wolfe et al. (2003) found small effects in their meta analysis of 41 studies. Different inclusion criteria for the studies used in the meta analyses often lead to different outcomes.


Most researchers concur that the best way to prevent children from witnessing domestic violence is to reduce the incidence and reoccurrence of domestic violence in society (Dutton, 2007). Domestic violence has been given a special status within the criminal justice system. In addition to a financial fine and/or incarceration, the batterer will often be placed in a special treatment program with the hope that counseling as opposed to mere deterrence by means of punishment will help to prevent recurrence. Unfortunately, the research on treatment efficacy for batters has not been that encouraging. There have been a number of studies that have summarized the effects of batterers' treatment (e.g., Babcock & LaTaillade, 2000). In nearly all of the reviews of the literature it is concluded that the short- and long-term effects of treatment on batters were inconclusive or researchers have concluded that there are minimal decreases in recidivism rates between those that complete treatment and those receiving legal system interventions. For example in a meta-analysis of 22 studies comparing the Duluth model (According to this model the major cause of domestic violence is patriarchal ideology and the societal approval of men's use of power and control over women. Group facilitators lead consciousness-raising exercises to challenge the male's perception of his right to control and dominate his partner.), cognitive behavioral therapy, and other therapeutic interventions (e.g., couples therapy) on batters vs. legal sanctions. Effect sizes were small indicating poor treatment outcomes and not significantly different across different interventions (Babcock, Green, & Robie, 2004). Other similar comparisons have been equally discouraging (e.g., Dutton & Corvo, 2007; Feder & Wilson, 2005). Treatment for substance abuse and anger issues does not appear effective either.

Individual treatment for the children themselves does hold promise, especially cognitive behavioral treatments and supportive treatments. However, these treatments are less effective if the child is still being exposed to domestic violence (Babcock, Green, & Robie, 2004; Feder & Wilson, 2005). Standard procedures for treating children with the issue in question apply (e.g., depression or aggressive behavior), but with extra emphasis and building rapport, empathy, and not rushing things (Dutton & Corvo, 2007). Prevention through education is the best intervention for primary victims of domestic violence to help them recognize, understand, and decide whether to tolerate such behavior (Dutton, 2007).


Quite frankly a policy of no tolerance towards domestic violence should be accepted with batters and threats of incarceration appear to be the best policy when dealing with batters in domestic violence cases (Babcock, Green, & Robie, 2004). Education of the victim, providing that the victim develop and maintain a private escape plan, demanding honesty from clients, and continual supervision also appear to be important in treating victims of domestic violence. Moreover, every situation of domestic violence shares overall general factors but also is composed of individualized situational factors that are specific to the case. An overall policy for treatment should provide for the development of individualized interventions (Dutton, 2007).

Other Areas

When dealing with batters and victims of domestic violence social workers need to contain their natural tendencies to be overly empathetic to batters and primary victims. However, secondary victims such as children need specialized care and understanding. At the slightest sign of recidivism on the part of the batter it is important for the social worker to assume child abuse and report it to the proper authorities. Since this strategy can interfere with the therapeutic relationship the boundaries and rules of treatment need to be explicitly explained and reviewed (Dutton, 2007).


Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects everyone in the family. Children who are exposed to domestic violence are at risk to develop a number of potential negative outcomes ranging from emotional to psychological to cognitive problems. Not all children exposed to domestic violence will develop problems, but it can be assumed that a fair number will and treatment can be helpful for the victims, but it still appears that legal interventions are most effective for the perpetrators. Thus, understanding what potential effects from exposure to violence can occur in secondary victims, treating them with understanding and care as well as and following strict rules with batters and primary victims can help to reduce the tension and allow to design an individual program for families in need.


Babcock, J.C., Green, C.E. & Robie, C. (2004). Does batterers' treatment work? A meta-

analytic review of domestic violence treatment. Clinical Psychology Review 23(8), 1023-1053.

Carlson, B.E. (1984). Children's observations of interparental violence. In A.R. Roberts (ed.),

Battered women and their families (pp. 147 -- 167). New York: Springer.

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (2008). In, DVAM 2008 Statewide press release. Retrieved December 3, 2011, from

Cummings, E.M. (1998). Children exposed to marital conflict and violence: Conceptual and theoretical directions. In G.W. Holden, R. Geffner, & E.N. Jouriles, (eds.), Children exposed to marital violence: Theory, research, and applied issues (pp. 55-93). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Carlson, B.E. (2000). Children exposed to intimate partner violence: Research findings and implications for intervention. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 1(4), 321-340.

Dutton, D.G. (2007). The complexities of domestic violence. American Psychologist, 708-710.

Dutton, D.G., & Corvo, K. (2007). The Duluth model: A data impervious paradigm and a failed strategy. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(6), 658-667.

Evans, S.E., Davies, C., & DiLillo, D. (2008). Exposure to domestic violence: a meta-analysis of child and adolescent outcomes. Aggression and Violent Behaviour, 13, 131 -- 140.

Fantuzzo, J. & Lindquist, C. (1989). The effects of observing conjugal violence on children: A

review and analysis of research methodology. Journal of Family Violence, 4, 77 -- 94.

Feder, L., & Wilson, D.B. (2005). A meta-analytic review… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Domestic Violence" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Domestic Violence.  (2011, December 6).  Retrieved February 25, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Domestic Violence."  6 December 2011.  Web.  25 February 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Domestic Violence."  December 6, 2011.  Accessed February 25, 2020.