Spousal Abuse

Posted on: 9th May 2023


Please complete Literature Review (1 page)

Topic Overview: Spousal Abuse (5 pages)

Please use 3 approved referred journals articles dated 2012 to present.


Integrated theory (2 theories) and must identify and use 5 IVs

Modeling of variables required (Must show model)

No less than 20 references, 7 MUST be articles from approved refereed journals dated 2012 to present.

1. All items referenced in the paper MUST be cited in the “References” section of the paper.


1. The paper must be typed using Times New Roman 12-point font 

2. Margins must not exceed 1 ½ all around.

1. APA (American Psychological Association) Style writing is MANDATORY.

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Literature Review: Spousal Abuse


Spousal abuse is a societal problem that has permeated the societal ecosystem. Spousal abuse is defined as any unlawful act or behaviour that directly inflicts physical, mental or sexual injury to any party in a romantic relationship. Research carried by Coker (2016) that spousal abuse is caused when one partner aims to control and exert authority over another. As a consequence, the relationship deteriorates and may result in violence. Several types of abuses are characterized among relationships, namely, emotional, verbal, psychological, financial, and sexual (Coker, 2016). Spousal abuse can occur in husband-wife relationships, dating relationships and even same-sex relationships. However, numerous studies suggest that female victims predominantly suffer more from physical, emotional and financial abuse (Coker, 2016). According to Wagers & Wareham (2019), most men are not violent; however, they express their anger and insecurities through violence. Decades ago, women were considered the property of men. Thus, they could legally abuse their wives. For the objectives of this research, spousal abuse is considered an unlawful act with negative consequences for the victim.

Spousal abuse can be categorized from a cultural perspective. Wagers & Wareham (2019) that domestic abuse between spouses is often an attempt to control one's spouse to accomplish their wishes. Coker (2016) suggests that violence of such nature refers to abuse towards a married partner or unmarried partner who has been living together for a duration of six months or more. Research conducted by Yon et al. (2013) acknowledged the discrepancy experienced in spousal violence incidences. The same author also argues that woman is twice as likely to experience physical violence compared to men. They're also twice as likely as men to say they've been choked and twice as likely to say they've been threatened with weapons.

On the other hand, Yon et al. (2013) indicate that men with violent spouses are more likely to report being kicked, slapped and bit. Although all forms of spousal abuse pose serious consequences, incidences of violence against women are more brutal than men. Yon et al. (2013) argue that spousal abuse is characterized as domestic, significantly diminishing its gravity and scope. The researcher recognizes the severity and criminality associated with all forms of domestic violence behaviour. However, he suggests that for spousal abuse to exist, there must exist inequality between spouses’ power whereby one party feels dominant while the other adopts a subservient role.

Coker (2016) summarizes spousal abuse as the precipitation of violence within a relationship with the objective of exerting psychological, sexual, physical, verbal and emotional control. The researcher argues that such behaviour occurs typically within a repeated cycle, and without intervention from professionals, it leads to fatal consequences (Wagers & Wareham, 2019). The ramifications of spousal violence are experienced within the household, but its effects are experienced within the community and society in extension. A survey of police reports conducted by Yon et al. (2013) highlights that spousal violence is a rising concern for communities. A study conducted by the same researchers unveiled that spousal violence can begin at marriage and last until elderly years. Yon et al. (2013) postulate that spousal abuse predominates across all types of relationships, including gay, lesbian, heterosexual, dating and cohabitation.

Nonetheless, to accomplish the objectives of the present study, the focus will be on married and cohabitating spousal couples. Spousal abuse induces significant physical and emotional damage on the victims, including depression, low self-esteem, low self-efficacy and bodily injury (Wagers & Wareham, 2019). Similarly, the perpetrators generally become remorseful or ashamed of their actions. While such feelings are short-lived, constant abuse makes the perpetrator remorseless and unashamed of their actions. Yon et al. (2013) theorize that remorseless perpetrators of spousal abuse can inflict significant injury, leading to permanent disability and even death.

Spousal abuse takes numerous forms, as highlighted by Wagers & Wareham. However, police statistics posits that physical abuse is the most common form of abuse. Sexual abuse constitutes sexual contact without approval from the other partner. Yon et al. (2013) highlight those police statistics indicates that sexual abuse less is less common due to cultural factors and since victims underreport it. While financial abuse is less common in the current skirty since most spouses have their income, it features withholding finances and controlling household expenditures. Research by Yon et al. (2013) characterizes social abuse as the least common form of spouse abuse. However, this form of abuse features isolation of the victim from family, social networks and community social services.

The cycle of violence that predominates spousal abuse is not conceptualized on occasion but occurs periodically. According to Yon et al. (2013), there are five core phases typical of spousal abuse. The first phase constitutes tension building, whereby the perpetrator uses verbal cues to highlight their dominance (Coker, 2016). Most often, the victim is subjected to verbal abuse, slaps and shoving. During this phase, the victim has the highest likelihood of preventing the situation from escalating. Acute battering is the second phase of spousal abuse (Coker, 2016). It features the perpetrator using physical violence to demonstrate control and dominance. The victim is typically subjected to severe beatings inducing feelings of hopelessness as they attempt to survive through the incident. The last phase is the loving phase. During this phase, the perpetrator feels guilty and attempts to use promises to seek reconciliation (Coker, 2016).

Theoretical framework

Several theories exist that offer insight on spousal abuse and its influences o both the victim and perpetrator. The psychological theory focuses on the perpetrator and posits that abusive partners have a mental illness that influences their behaviour. Similarly, excessive use of drugs and alcohol can induce violent behaviour (Wagers & Wareham, 2019). According to the psychological approach, the perpetrator is not held accountable for their abusive behaviour since they do not control their emotions. Thus, they are considered victims that need medical and psychological intervention. Coker (2016) argues that the psychological approach does not illustrate the origin of abusive behaviour among spouses or account for their actions. In retrospect, the same author posits that a large demographic of individuals do not exhibit violent behaviour in social relationships. Yon et al.'s (2013) research reveal that spousal abuse is common in males with no prior drug use history. Thus, the author argues that personality disorder is not an attribute for spousal abuse, diminishing the psychological standpoint's credibility.

According to Coker (2016), the feminist theory considerably challenges the limitations of psychological theory. The feminist theory proposes that longstanding structural powers differential between genders whereby perpetrators, predominantly male, attempt to preserve their superior status over women. Coker (2016) also characterizes that societal beliefs, attitudes, structures and processes uphold the abusive practices towards women. However, the feminist model also has some weaknesses. Firsts, it fails to account for the non-abusive heterosexual relationships that currently exist. Secondly, women in a homosexual relationship challenge the feminist perspective in regards to gender attributes.

Nonetheless, Wagers & Wareham (2019) argue that social attitudes within homosexual relationships, particularly the dominance-submissive dynamics, can explain the feminist theory whereby the functional male is the abuser. The final theory offering insight into spousal abuse is the systems theory that claims that any single factor does not cause violent behaviour. However, it is the effect of multiple features, namely individual factors and societal influences within the community. According to this theory, socially acquired behaviours or individual characteristics are sufficient to account for spousal abuse prevalence in the world. Furthermore, it necessitates a physical and psychological evaluation of the perpetrator to determine the exact characteristics that induce violent behaviour within a social relationship.


Coker, D. (2016). Domestic Violence and Social Justice. Violence against Women, 22(12), 1426–1437. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801215625851

Wagers, S. M., & Wareham, J. (2019). Does Training and Coursework in Domestic Violence Affect Students’ Perceptions of Behaviors as Domestic Violence? Violence and Victims, 34(1), 85–103. https://doi.org/10.1891/0886-6708.34.1.85

Yon, Y., Wister, A. V., Mitchell, B., & Gutman, G. (2013). A National Comparison of Spousal Abuse in Mid- and Old Age. Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 26(1), 80–105. https://doi.org/10.1080/08946566.2013.784085

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