As human beings, we are connected in ways we don’t always realize—especially within our family units. We like to tell ourselves that we alone pay the price for our mistakes, but those mistakes can potentially make a deep impact on the people we love. To give an uncomfortable example, a growing body of research strongly suggests domestic violence can be passed down generationally. In other words, children who are exposed to domestic violence have an increased likelihood of repeating the pattern in adulthood.
The Urban Child Institute summarizes the issue plainly. “Children who witness domestic violence grow up to have a greater risk of living in violent relationships themselves, whether as victims or as perpetrators,” they say. “Without more awareness of this problem and help for these families, the burden of domestic violence will continue to be passed from one generation to the next.”
If we were to classify domestic violence as an illness, by all standards it would be an epidemic. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 9 men, becomes a victim of DV at some point in life—affecting as many as 10 million Americans each year.
What isn’t always clear is: Why?
Any act of domestic violence, no matter how “minor” it seems in the moment, can wreak great havoc in your life. Just one occurrence can fracture your relationships and potentially take your freedom. Understanding why it occurs can be a key to preventing it. If you can identify the driving factors or triggers behind your behavior, you have a better chance of addressing it so domestic violence doesn’t occur—or doesn’t occur again. So let’s explore some of the most common factors experts have identified as driving forces behind DV.