There is a preconceived notion that all families are a “great big happy family”, unfortunately this is entirely false for a hand full of families; not all families are filled with love and joy, a few possess a very dark side (Sev’er, 2014, pp. 273). This dark side is the violence that occurs within the family, whether it be child abuse or domestic violence. Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behaviour within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner (Oxford Dictionary). Although there are instances where women are violent, Kimmel and Holler (2011) state “most family violence is perpetrated by males - husbands beating wives, fathers hitting children, sons hitting their parent, boys hitting their brothers or their sisters. The actual or implicit threat of physical coercion is one of many factors underlying male dominance in the family” (355). To refrain from the phrase ‘domestic’ violence, bell hooks used the phrase ‘patriarchal’ violence to describe abuse that occurred within the family. Patriarchal violence “is based on the belief that is acceptable for a more powerful individual to control others through various forms of coercive violence. This belief is associated with male domination” (as cited in Kimmel and Holler, 2011, pp. 355). Many would correlate the term ‘domestic violence’ with ‘wife-battering’ (Kimmel and Holler, 2011, pp. 355), meaning that people automatically think of a man physically or mentally abusing a women when they hear ‘domestic violence’. These examples make it evident that family violence is extremely gendered, and it continually reproduces and reinforces gender inequalities within the family.
Mitchell (2012), also argues that families are “one of the most violent and cruel groups to which we belong” and that violence within the family has only been openly spoken about in the last twenty years (340). Families are generally characterized as a ‘safe-haven’ where fathers predominately play an instrumental role and mothers play an expressive role. Father’s perform instrumental roles such as being the sole breadwinner and teaching children how to ride their bicycles, while mother’s perform expressive roes where they are expected to nurture and care for their children (Albanese, 2014, 14). In the words of Murdock, he defines “the family” as:
...a social group characterized by common residence, economic co-operation and reproduction. It includes adults of both sexes, at least two of who maintain socially approved sexual relationship, and one or more children, own or adopted, of the sexually cohabiting adults (as cited in Cheal and Albanese, 2014, 8).
Domestic violence not only targets the victim, but it also spreads to the most important people in their lives (Sev’er, 104). With the continued perspective that women are the targets and men are the abusers, this essay will argue how children who are witnesses of domestic violence are at risk of a series of negative consequences,...