Domestic violence and abuse is a complex, prevalent and serious social problem which affects all of us. The likelihood is that we all know someone who has been a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence – even if we are not aware of it. 

Overwhelmingly women and their children are the victims of domestic violence while the vast majority of those using violence are men. However it is important to remember that whilst most violence is perpetrated by men, most men are not violent. Men may also be victims of domestic violence and abuse; it occurs in same sex relationships and affects people from all cultural and social-economic backgrounds. So it is complex. Nonetheless researchers have identified three social conditions that influence individual and group behaviour and attitudes that underpin domestic violence and abuse. 

First and foremost gender is critical in seeking to understand and stop domestic violence and abuse. It is well recognised that inequality between men and women is both a cause and consequence of domestic violence and abuse. Studies of violence against women around the world show that the higher the level of inequality between men and women the higher the level of violence against women. Domestic violence and abuse is one of many common forms of violence against women around the world and here in the UK. 

Research also points to two other social conditions that underpin this violence. This includes traditional gender norms about the roles and behaviours of men and women and the holding of attitudes that are supportive of violence against women, whether as individuals, in relationships, or within the wider community or society.  

There are many myths and misperceptions about domestic violence and its causes. Unfortunately this only serves to divert attention away from the severity of the problem here in the UK and elsewhere. Some of these include the abuser and/or victim having issues such as drug and alcohol addiction, anger problems, financial stress and so forth. These factors can contribute to and even escalate violence in the home and/or in intimate relationships - however they are not causal.