In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Family Violence

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Anthologies
  • Journals
  • Reference Resources
  • Elder Mistreatment

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Social Work Family Violence
Bonnie E. Carlson
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 June 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 June 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0014


Since the 1970s, a great deal has been learned about different types of family violence, including child abuse, adolescent dating violence, domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, and mistreatment of elders. Before that time the predominant view was that families and intimate relationships were sources of support and safety, not places where members could be harmed and abused. As our understanding of family violence has increased, we have come to learn that different forms of abuse are often related to one another. In particular, research shows that having experienced one form of abuse can be a risk factor for revictimization in the future. But there are numerous other risk factors for each type of family violence, providing both challenges and opportunities for prevention. The consequences of abuse have been studied extensively, and we have learned that the effects are multifaceted. In most cases there is not a single victim profile, as victims can be affected differently depending on things such as nature of the abuse and contextual factors. Another important change that has occurred is the criminalization of family violence, all physical forms of which are currently illegal. However, these different types of abuse have been shown to be complicated and challenging to ameliorate.


The scholarship and research on family violence is largely published in journals. However, the books in this section are excellent sources of information on family violence. Barnett, et al. 2011 is the best overview text on family violence. Kolko and Swenson 2002 focuses on interventions for child abuse but offers good information on the nature of physical child abuse from the standpoint of victims and parents. Nerenberg 2008 provides an excellent overview of elder mistreatment.

  • Barnett, Ola W., Cindy L. Miller-Perrin, and Robin D. Perrin. 2011. Family violence across the lifespan. 3d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    An excellent comprehensive overview of different forms of family violence, with attention to prevalence, risk factors, consequences, and treatment approaches.

  • Kolko, David J., and C. C. Swenson. 2002. Assessing and treating physically abused children and their families. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    An excellent treatment manual that presents empirically supported interventions for both abused children and abusive parents, using a cognitive behavioral approach.

  • Nerenberg, Lisa. 2008. Elder abuse prevention: Emerging trends and promising strategies. New York: Springer.

    This practice-oriented text authored by a social worker identifies trends that have shaped elder abuse practice; controversies, such as how elder maltreatment should be defined and whether it should be criminalized; factors that influence intervention in elder abuse; and emerging service models.

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