Violence in the Family

April 27, 1979

Report Outline
Concern Over Domestic Violence
Generational Theory of Violence
New Efforts to Help Abusers
Special Focus

Concern Over Domestic Violence

Severity of Child, Spouse Abuse Problem

The image of the family as a refuge from the strains and stresses of the outside world is one most Americans hold dear. Our unwillingness to abandon this idealized picture of family life, despite rising divorce rates and other signs of family discord, is perhaps an indication that the American family is here to stay. This optimistic assessment of the future of the family draws general agreement. But there also seems to be a growing recognition that this idyllic concept of family life has contributed to the conspiracy of silence that, until very recently, surrounded the problem of violence in the family.

Evidence of violent confrontations among family members, especially extreme cases of child abuse and neglect, were never completely ignored by law enforcement personnel, social workers, psychologists or the news media. But the tendency was to view these cases as abnormalities, as exceptions to the usual state of affairs. Family violence also was seen as primarily a working-class phenomenon. In recent years, however, it has become increasingly apparent that violence in the family is a much more serious problem than many realized — or were willing to admit. Consider these statistics:

In 1977, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, nearly 20 percent of all murder victims in the United States were related to the assailants. About half of these intra-family murders were husband-wife killings.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Violence in America
Apr. 29, 2022  Political Violence
Jun. 01, 2018  Gang Violence
Oct. 09, 2015  Fighting Gangs
Feb. 14, 2014  Media Violence
Nov. 15, 2013  Domestic Violence
Feb. 08, 2013  Preventing Hazing
Jan. 06, 2006  Domestic Violence
Oct. 31, 2003  Serial Killers
Sep. 03, 1993  Suburban Violence
Apr. 27, 1979  Violence in the Family
Jun. 05, 1968  Violence in American Life
Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Violence and the Family