What are the causes of domestic violence?

Word cloud.jpg

What are the most important factors that contribute to abusive behaviour?

In February of this year, Interval House posed this question to Ontarians through an Angus Reid Omnibus Survey. We let them answer in their own words: what did they think the reason was that people become abusive?

Based on their responses, we created a word cloud, which shows the prevalence of different words in respondents’ answers: the bigger the word, the more commonly it appeared in answers to our question.

And what did Ontarians say? Well, if you take a look at the word cloud, you’ll see some words that jump out right away: “alcohol,” “abuse,” “control,” “anger,” “self,” and “lack.” Words like “mental,” “esteem,” “stress,” “history,” “power,” “money,” and “drug” are also pretty common.

Read together, you can piece together some common themes in the answers: that domestic violence is caused by alcohol, drugs, or substance abuse; that anger, stress, or mental health issues underpin abusive behaviours; that a personal history of abuse leads one to become abusive; that domestic violence is about power and control.

And are Ontarians right? Well, we want to talk about that over the next couple of weeks. Each week for the next month, we’ll be addressing a common attitude about the causes of domestic violence to investigate: is it true? Or is it a myth? Stay tuned for the first post in our series, where we answer: does substance abuse cause domestic violence?