The Infrequency of Family Violence



We examined the frequency of domestic violence and verbal altercations relative to the level of domestic conflict using survey data from the United States and Korea. We found evidence that individuals are generally less likely to use violence during an altercation if the antagonist is a family member than if the antagonist is a stranger. People apparently have stronger inhibitions about hitting family members than about hitting strangers, and, as a result, domestic violence is infrequent relative to the level of domestic conflict. In addition, verbal altercations are more likely to occur in conflicts with partners and children than in conflicts involving strangers, suggesting that the relaxation of rules of politeness contributes to the expression of grievances and ultimately the use of violence in these relationships.