Factors That Lead to Intimate Partner Violence in Abusive Marriage

Topic: Psychology of Abuse
Words: 3979 Pages: 14

In the present day, family violence within the framework of an abusive marriage may be regarded as a disturbing issue that attracts the attention of sociologists and health care providers. U.S. Department of Justice defines family violence as “all types of violent crime committed by an offender who is related to the victim either biologically or legally through marriage or adoption” (Durose et al., 2005, p. 4). Thus, it refers to physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, and economic abuse toward adults, children, and elders (Thompson et al., 2006). At the same time, taking into consideration the broadness of the topic and the scope of research, the current study will focus on abusive marriage that presupposes a person’s physical and sexual violence, stalking, psychological aggression, and economic abuse against his or her partner.

Intimate partner violence in marriage has no boundaries as it may occur regardless of people’s race, age, culture, religion, socioeconomic status, and the period of staying together. At the same time, it has a highly negative consequences affecting victims, families, and society in general (Sprague et al., 2012; Buss & Duntley, 2011). It leads to individuals’ diminished physical, psychological, and mental health, the decreased quality of life, and poor productivity in all spheres (Cronholm et al., 2011; Kelly & Johnson, 2008). In particular, domestic violence has a devastating effect on victims, such as injuries, illnesses, disability, and even death, psychological trauma, multiple mental health disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and homelessness (Campbell, 2002; Stewart et al., 2013; Dicola & Spaar, 2016). In turn, as the rates of physical and mental health issues, substance abuse, and criminal prosecution connected with domestic abuse increase, family violence creates an additional burden for health care, social, and law systems.

At the same time, according to statistics and considering traditional gender roles, physical characteristics of males and females, and the desire to dominate as a common reason for domestic violence, women are more vulnerable to intimate partner abuse. The physical and psychological consequences of domestic abuse for victimized women include sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy, HIV, injuries, incapacity, anxiety, multiple phobias, depression, and suicide attempts (WHO, 2012; Ali et al., 2016). That is why the examination of factors that may lead to abuse in marriage allows to develop efficient responsive measures and initiate changes in other social institutions due to their interconnectedness.

Ontological Basis

The ontological basis of the research approach that allows to get an in-depth insight into the causes of the phenomenon of domestic abuse is the ontology of violence that contribute to the creation of a large number of theories that aim to assess it from various perspectives. According to ancient philosophers and their followers, violence is regarded as an intrinsic part of human nature driven by desires, “a natural, predictable, inevitable part of the process of existence; just what the organism does as part of its routine of living” (Shitta-Bey, 2016, p. 162). In addition, considering multiple types of violence, there are multiple theories that aim to explain its occurrence. The occurrence of abusive marriage is explained by an offender’s personal peculiarities, the environment, and culture.

Research Paradigm and Its Epistemological Position

The research paradigm of this study is the qualitative approach that will include the involvement of participants, surveying, and the analysis of responses with their comparison with existing data. The choice of the approach is determined by the nature of the study, its focus, and research question. In other words, it does not presuppose the measurement of numerical data. In turn, data received from samples will imply the interpretation of the reality by a researcher that should be perceived and analyzed in order to receive an in-depth insight into the research problem. According to Patiño & Goulart (2016), the qualitative epistemology is based on the principles of the constructive-interpretive knowledge process, singularity, and the dialogical nature of knowledge production. In this case, the epistemological position of the qualitative study provides a comprehensive framework for the prediction, description, empowerment, and deconstruction of population-specific worldviews in order to increase the understanding of data.

Research Questions

The rationale of the central research question is determined by the purpose of the research that aims to assess the factors of violence in abusive marriage for its prevention. At the same time, sub-questions were logically derived from a central one as they allow to systematize knowledge and made the results more comprehensive and applicable to practice. Thus, the questions of the research may be defined as the following:

  • Central question: What are the factors of abusive marriage?
  • Sub-questions: What factors are prevailing? What theory explains the occurrence of intimate partner violence? How factors are affected by victim’s individual features, such as race, culture, and age?

Review of Literature and Theoretical Framework

First of all, it is essential to say that the factors of intimate partner violence should be assessed for the elaboration of preventative measures as the significance of this topic is determined by the scope of domestic abuse in relation to family members and women in particular. According to Huecker et al. (2022), in the United States, approximately 10 million people are affected by domestic and family violence every year and “as many as one in four women and one in nine men are victims” (para. 1). In addition, it causes more than 1500 deaths due to severe underreporting to legal authorities and health care professionals (Huecker et al., 2022; Gunter, 2007). At the same time, intimate partner abuse occurs on all continents and in all countries regardless of people’s culture, race, ethnicity, religion, social norms, and socioeconomic status (Jewkes, 2002; Miller & McCaw, 2019; Barner & Carney, 2011). At the same time, while the history of domestic violence corresponds with human history with the first recorded evidence dated back to at least 750 AD, “only in the beginning of the 1990s, violence against women started to emerge as a focus of international attention and concern” (Hayati, 2012, p. 28). That is why it deserves the particular attention of scientists for responsive measures.

At the same time, the attitude of victims towards intimate partner violence is controversial and demonstrate the phenomenon of an abuser’s justification. Thus, in multiple societies, especially with the patriarchal worldview, women advocate for family abuse in particular cases, such as a woman’s infidelity or disobeying a husband (Campbell, 2004). In more extreme cases, for instance, in Zimbabwe, almost the majority of females state that violence is justifiable “in five certain situations, which included arguing with her spouse, neglecting the children, refusing to have sex, burning food, or leaving the home without telling the husband” (Hayati, 2012, p. 30). In this case, the necessity of research dedicated to this topic is determined by the understating of victim-associated factors that may limit the implementation of responsive measures.

Finally, the significance of this area’s examination is partially explained by the ontology of violence. According to Plato, whose philosophical thought may be regarded as the foundation of Western, if not global philosophy, violence is an intrinsic part of human nature triggered by desires (Shitta-Bey, 2016). This idea was supported by Hobbes who stated that “there is envy, hatred, and war in the process of attaining desires” (Shitta-Bey, 2016, p. 160). In this case, the examination of factors that may lead to family violence in abusive marriage may provide an insight into its nature. In other words, investigating this issue, a researcher aims to understand whether violence cannot be controlled and prevent as it is inevitable or there are factors that may lead to either its occurrence or diminishing.

Theoretical Body of Knowledge

As a matter of fact, there are multiple theories that aim to explain the origin of violence. In relation to intimate partner violence, several major groups of theories exist, including sociobiological, sociocultural, social learning, psychological, psychodynamic, subcultural, and patriarchal theories (DeKeseredy & Perry, 2006; Keenan, 2020; King, 2012; Hyde-Nolan & Juliao, 2012; Bell & Naugle, 2008.). Sociobiological theories imply the explanation of violence by inherited genes and biological differences between men and women that determine dominant and aggressive behavior of ones in relation to others. In turn, social cultural theories, such as the control, social isolation, resource, and exosystem factor theories, along with their variations, including patriarchal and social learning theories, refers to intimate partner violence as a result of nurture instead of nature (Hyde-Nolan & Juliao, 2012; Lawson, 2012). According to them, violence is expressed as an offender’s previous experience and his exposure to it in his own family, for instance, on the basis of his father’s attitude to his mother (Carney et al., 2007). At the same time, these theories address social and situational factors of abuse, such as marital infidelity, drug, alcohol and other substance abuse, financial struggles, or unemployment.

Psychological and psychodynamic theories of intimate partner violence presuppose the negative impact on a person’s metal development or the absence of essential steps in the formation of the identity that led to its corruption. According to King (2012), these theories may be divided into two categories – theories that view violence as a part of human nature and theories that view violence as a result of a damaged psyche. Finally, subcultural theories presuppose the existence of subgroups within complex and pluralistic societies which cultural and religious norms justify the use of violence.

In general, there are particular challenges related to the research of intimate partner violence that may be regarded as considerable barriers. First of all, the classifications of a large number of theories are highly complex as almost every researcher proposes his own one creating biases and misunderstanding. In this case, the current research may be regarded as structuring the existing knowledge on the basis of real people’s experience in order to provide an insight into the prevailing factors of violence and theories that relate to them.

Previous Studies Dedicated to the Topic

Regardless of a large number of resources dedicated to intimate partner violence that were previously conducted, the particular patterns may be traced. Thus, reasons for violence associated with an abusive marriage may include personal, social, economic, and cultural ones (Capaldi et al., 2012). Personal, social, and cultural factors traditionally include low self-esteem, culturally justified abuse, feeling inferior, anger management issues, jealousy, psychological and personality disorders, learned behavior from an abuser in the family, alcohol consumption, and drug abuse (Huecker et al., 2022; Cattaneo & Goodman, 2005; McHugh & Frieze, 2006; Caldwell et al., 2012). At the same time, economic reasons, such as financial struggles, unemployment, and household wealth’s low levels play an essential role as well, however, they are predominantly based on other factors, for instance, on cultural, subcultural, and psychological ones (Hindin & Adair, 2002; Agüero, 2021). In other words, economic crises will not lead to violence if a person is emotionally stable.

While the scope of research is relatively wide, the range of factors expand as well. For instance, according to the studies organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in different countries, the factors of abusive marriage include young age, poor education, the absence of legal protection of victims in marriage, experiencing childhood abuse, cohabitation, and experiencing domestic violence both in the childhood and adulthood (Abramsky et al., 2011; Garcia-Moreno et al., 2006). At the same time, the factors of violence may be substantially determined by religion and a researcher’s attitude to religion. For instance, according to Simister & Kowalewska (2016), in Christianity, violence is gender-based and it may be triggered by the absence of low and understanding between partners, the peculiarities of the history and political system of a country, poor education, and the existence of feminist movements. All in all, the availability of data dedicated to previous research allows to compare it with modern studies and support by evidence through the involvement of participants.

Research Methods and Design

On the basis of the topic’s nature and research questions, the design that was chosen for this research is a qualitative approach. In contrast with quantitative research, qualitative one does not imply the introduction of numerical data and its analysis for particular results on its basis. On the one hand, qualitative design presupposes the collection of evidence on the basis of the systematic use of predefine procedures in order to answer the research question (“Qualitative research methods: A data collector’s field guide,” n.d.). In addition, qualitative research aims to produce findings not determined prior the study that may be applied to practice or further research.

On the other hand, qualitative research may be characterized by the presence of variability. While quantitative studies “focus on cause and effect, how much, and numeric correlations,” qualitative works are designed to answer how and why (Sullivan & Sargeant, 2011, p. 449). They are applied when the research question requires not a straightforward answer but explanation and variants. The concerns of qualitative studies are cases and the interpretation of responses rather than variables and responses’ calculations. In addition, qualitative research admits the important role of not only participants’ personal views but the ability of a research to interpret the results.

Thus, considering the methods of qualitative research and the peculiarities of the research question and its scope, the analysis of secondary data (literature review) and interviewing (surveying) will be used. First of all, the importance of primary and secondary data and previous research for the examination of the factors of intimate partner violence is impossible to deny. Moreover, as a matter of fact, on the basis of multiple theories, the factors of intimate partner violence in an abusive marriage may be regarded as established. In turn, the purpose of the current research is not only to assess the existing factors of abusive marriage but to establish their prevalence as well. For this, it is essential to review recent research dedicated to the causes of intimate partner abuse to evaluate how they correspond to the reality comparing data with participants’ responses. Responsively, the involvement of participants for questioning and data collection on the basis of their responses is essential for this study as it will allow to answer the research question on the basis of evidence.

Tools for Qualitative Approach

The collection of data and its systematic review will be conducted through the search of peer-reviewed articles with the use of electronic databases, including Google Scholar, CINAHL, Global Health, PubMed, EBSCO, PsycINFO, and EMBASE. The criteria of search will be the topic and publication date – all articles should be dedicated to the factors of intimate partner violence and published within the last five years. The keywords for search will include “violence; family violence; family abuse; domestic violence; intimate partner violence; abusive marriage; factors of family violence; factors of domestic abuse; factors of intimate partner violence; violence theories, theories of family violence, theories of domestic violence, theories of intimate partner violence.” Subsequently, the resources will be analyzed in order to identify the most common factors of violence according to previous research and their correspondence with theories. It will allow to answer the sub-question that refers to the theory that explains the majority of cases of intimate partner violence.

The interviewing of participants presupposes the creation of a questionnaire for people to answer. However, as a large number of them is expected to make research as reliable as possible and cover the population, the invitation and face-to-face interviewing could be challenging. In this case, the study requires the development of a specific program that will be accessible for participants online. In particular, the questionnaire will include the combination of closed questions with a multiple choice in order to define participants’ demographic characteristics such as ethnicity and age, and open questions to allow them to describe their experience. This format will allow to assess the factors of intimate partner violence and the impact of personal characteristics on them.

The collection of secondary data, its review, and analysis require a researcher’s access to the Internet and identified databases. In turn, the interviewing of participants requires the creation and installation of a specific program by an IT specialist. On the one hand, this instrument has multiple benefits as it allows to assess the opinions of multiple people at the same time. Moreover, its format will contribute to people’s participation as it is does not presuppose considerable efforts, moving, and specific knowledge. In addition, the program will facilitate the analysis of responses as all data will be saved in it and instantly available for a researcher. Thus, this instrument may be regarded as feasible and applicable for the study. At the same time, it is essential to consider the program’s disadvantages as the potential cost-inefficiency of its development, technical issues, and cybersecurity-related threats.

Sampling and Participants

The methods used for this research will be randomized probability sampling. On the one hand, it allows to access a population and make generalizations about it in a simple and affordable way. On the other hand, its limitations may be associated with a wrong choice of participants what will not represent a population. However, in the case of the current research, biases may be associated with participants’ answers that do not reflect the reality or the participation of individuals who do not represent a population.

Nevertheless, the participants of this research will be women who have basic technological literacy to use a digital device and access the online questionnaire. The only criteria for participation is being in abusive marriage in the present or in the past. It is planned to collaborate with centers and organizations that focus on women health and support in critical situations for the promotion of the possibility of participation. All in all, the participants will play a crucial role in the study as their responses will be an intrinsic element of the research that will allow to answer the research question.

Ethical Issues

Working with participants, it is highly essential to follow ethical guidelines that underline the conduct and responsibilities of professional sociologists. According to The American Sociological Association’s (ASA’s) Code of Ethics, the major ethical principles of sociological research include autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, fidelity and justice. In the current research, these principles will be followed as the participation will be based on the informed consent without persuasion and they will have a right to refuse to participate or continue. In addition, the participation does not presuppose harm for participants and their responses will contribute to the development of efficient measures for the prevention of intimate partner violence and common welfare. Finally, all individuals will be treated absolutely equally and on the basis of mutual trust and respect.

Ethical Issues

The main consideration of qualitative research is the protection of human subjects. According to Arifin (2018), “the consideration of ethical issues is crucial throughout all stages of qualitative study to keep the balance between the potential risks of research and the likely benefits of the research” (p. 30). While the current research does not presuppose the intervention that may impact participants’ physical or mental health, the protection of their personal data should be considered. In this case, the main considerations should include voluntary participation, informed consent, confidentiality, and anonymity. A participant’s consent should be given voluntarily and in a written form after he will be provided with all essential information related to the research process.

In relation to the analysis of data collected from peer-reviewed article, ethical considerations cannot be regarded as highly considerable. First of all, in the case of participants’ involvement, ethical guidelines should be followed by this study’s experts rather that researcher who apply its results to another research. At the same time, it is essential to ensure the absence of violation of property and intellectual rights. In other words, articles should be taken from public access that indicate the possibility of their use for further research. If an article is not accessible, the permission to use it should be received from its author.

In relation to online interviewing, the main ethical issue may be defined as the absence of anonymity that will have devastating consequences in the case of data leakage. In addition, the topic of the research and participants’ experience in relation to it may lead to biases as people will not have a desire to talk freely about their exposure to intimate partner violence, however this activity is require by the research process. In this case, the format of online interview with high anonymity is expected to mitigate this problem. In other words, staying alone without face-to-face communication with a researcher, participants should feel more confident and give responses honestly.

All potential threats will be mitigated through the structure of data collection and the absence of the involvement of any organization that may affect the research process. Prior to answering questions, all participants will be provided with a short instruction and the explanation of the purpose of the research. In order to continue, participants should click “I agree” button that will indicate that they agree to participate and they are informed about all aspects of the research, however, they may use their right to leave the program any time they want. The main strategy that will be applied to mitigate the risk of data insecurity is the absence of personal information. In other words, participants will not need to provide their personal data, such as names, surnames, addresses, or telephone numbers. They should identify their age and ethnicity, however, this information cannot be used by offenders even in the case of cyberattack or data leakage. In addition, participants cannot be influenced by each other as responses will not be available for other individuals, except a researcher.

Analysis and Writing

While the collection of data presupposes the search of its sources, data analysis is the process of its evaluation and transformation in order to answer research questions. Data analysis may take various forms, including descriptive, inferential, exploratory, predictive, mechanistic, and causal analysis. For the current study, the descriptive form will be applied due to its ability to answer identified research question and sub-questions. In general, the research may be regarded as data collection and the analysis of received information that should be described and divided into three major parts, including the factors of intimate partner violence, theories that explain the occurrence of abusive marriage, and participants’ responses related to the causes of abusive relationships. On their basis, it will be possible to answer the research question.

Validity and Triangulation

There are several factors that can make the current research reliable and valid. First of all, a considerable number of women who faced intimate partner violence are expected to participate due to the simplicity and comfort of participation. In addition, the format of interviewing that will presuppose the absence of face-to-face contact and anonymity should correspond to participants’ honesty in their responses. Moreover, the availability and use of large amounts of peer-reviewed scientific information will support the research’s findings.

In turn, extended beyond mathematics, triangulation transformed into a sociological method. According to UNAIDS (n.d.), it is “as a process of combining data from different sources to study a particular social phenomenon” (p. 13). It has several types, including data, investigator, methodological, and theory triangulation. For the current study, the use of data triangulation is expected as multiple data sources will be used while the use of multiple perspectives and theories and the number of researcher will be limited.

Author and Publication

It goes without saying that an author plays a highly essential role in the conduction of the research and its further description. Moreover, qualitative approach emphasizes the role of an author in data interpretation. However, as the study presuppose descriptive analysis and the paramount significance of participants; worldview, an author will not be stated in the text. In turn, the research may have an importance for further research. For instance, it may be applied to the investigation of the impact of an offender’s socioeconomic status on the factors of intimate partner abuse. That is why the current study may be published in a peer-reviewed sociological journal.


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