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

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data and References Sources
  • Risk Factors and Recidivism
  • Cross-Cultural Issues
  • Domestic Violence in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Community
  • Changing Rates of Family Violence

Criminology Family Violence
Karen Terry
  • LAST REVIEWED: 15 February 2010
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 February 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0017


Broadly defined, family violence is any form of violent crime committed by a family member. The most common types are intimate-partner violence, child abuse (physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or maltreatment), and elder abuse. The primary focus of this bibliography is on domestic violence between intimate partners, including the characteristics of batterers, risk factors for abuse, and interventions to reduce recidivism. Though much of the research is still focused on male batterers in heterosexual couples, there is an increasing amount of research on intimate-partner violence among gay and lesbian couples, and on female batterers. Research shows that the effects of victimization are similar across groups and can be substantial for all those in the family. Research on criminal justice and treatment interventions for batterers show mixed results, though more recent trends toward coordinated community responses show promise at reducing incidents of violence.

General Overviews

Several texts provide a comprehensive overview of family and domestic violence and can be used as basic resources for understanding the nature and scope of the problem. Gelles 1998 and Barnett, et al. 1997 provide broad summaries of family violence and the effects of this violence over the lifespan. Dobash and Dobash 1979 was a groundbreaking text and one of the first to examine domestic violence from multiple perspectives. Davis 2008 provides a summary of domestic-violence research, challenging the current prevention policies. Shepard 2005 and Stover 2005 summarize the past few decades of research on domestic violence, with a focus on the various interventions, what has been most useful, and suggestions for future research. Chancer 2004 addresses how domestic violence should be approached theoretically and contrasts that with how it is dealt with in practice. Michalski 2004 uses Donald Black’s theoretical approach to study risk factors of domestic violence.

  • Barnett, Ola W., Cindy L. Miller-Perrin, and Robin D. Perrin. 1997. Family violence across the lifespan: An introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    A comprehensive look at the etiology, prevalence, treatment, and prevention of family violence. The authors discuss multiple types of family violence, including child abuse and maltreatment, rape and sexual assault, intimate partner abuse, and elder abuse.

  • Chancer, Lynn S. 2004. Rethinking domestic violence in theory and practice. Deviant Behavior 25:255–275.

    DOI: 10.1080/01639620490431200

    Noting that domestic violence is common, the author conceptualizes it on a continuum of “normalized” to “extreme” and discusses how this social problem should be approached theoretically and in practice. Focuses on current policies such as mandatory arrest laws, restorative justice approaches, and collaborative empowerment.

  • Davis, Richard L. 2008. Domestic violence: Intervention, prevention, policies, and solutions. Boca Raton, FL: CRC.

    Summarizes the relevant research on domestic violence, including characteristics of both batterers and victims and risk factors for abuse. Through his assessment of evidence-based data, Davis challenges the effectiveness of current policies and procedures.

  • Dobash, R. Emerson, and Russell Dobash. 1979. Violence against wives: A case against the patriarchy. New York: Free Press.

    Based upon interviews of battered wives and criminal justice records in Scotland, this classic work provides an overview of domestic violence from a legal, political, historical, and economic perspective.

  • Gelles, Richard J. 1998. Family violence. In The handbook of crime and punishment. Edited by Michael Tonry, 178–206. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Provides an overview of family violence, with a focus on different types (domestic violence, child abuse and maltreatment, and elder abuse), characteristics of perpetrators and victims, and risk factors for abuse.

  • Michalski, Joseph H. 2004. Making sociological sense out of trends in intimate-partner violence: The social structure of violence against women. Violence Against Women 10:652–675.

    DOI: 10.1177/1077801204265018

    Explores the social-structural characteristics that are conducive to domestic violence, focusing on the degree of social isolation, interdependence of support networks, inequality, relational distance, centralization of authority, and exposure to violent networks.

  • Shepard, Melanie. 2005. Twenty years of progress in addressing domestic violence: An agenda for the next 10. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 20:436–441.

    DOI: 10.1177/0886260504267879

    A review of twenty years of research on domestic violence, including the various policies and interventions that have been implemented. The author notes that coordinated community responses have had a positive impact.

  • Stover, Carla Smith. 2005. Domestic violence research: What have we learned and where do we go from here? Journal of Interpersonal Violence 20:448–454.

    DOI: 10.1177/0886260504267755

    A review of domestic violence research over the past few decades, including the nature, type, and effects of abuse; types of interventions; and recidivism. The author concludes with ideas about directions for future research.

  • Schechter, Susan. 1982. Women and male violence: The visions and struggles of the battered women’s movement. Boston: South End.

    A classic book that provides an historical overview of the battered women’s movement, which began in the mid-1970s; written from a socialist-feminist perspective.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.