SOCIAL ISOLATION AND SOCIAL SUPPORT
Abusers often isolate their partners (Dutton & Goodman, 2005). In one instance, for example, a man became jealous of his wife when she was pregnant. As soon as he learned his wife was pregnant, the man decided to move from their apartment in the city to a hillside cottage miles from the nearest neighbor. After the family moved, the husband sold his pickup truck and purchased a motorcycle. His wife was cut off from her family and former friends and had no means of transportation. The husband’s psychological aggression eventually escalated to physical violence. The wife had no social support, and the violence took place far away from the eyes and ears of any witnesses.
On the other side of the social isolation coin is social support. There is a small body of research that indicates that the greater social support a woman has, the less likely it is that her partner will engage in IPV (Capaldi et al., 2012).
Economic stressors such as poverty and unemployment are risk factors for IPV and abuse (Capaldi et al., 2012; Stith et al., 2004). The strength of the association of economic stressors and IPV is small to moderate. In addition to financial stress being a risk factor, other individual and family stressors increase the likelihood of partner violence and abuse. Parenting stress is an important factor than can lead to partner aggression (Probst et al., 2008).
As we mentioned earlier, more than three decades ago, Murray Straus and his colleagues opined that a marriage license is a hitting license (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980). Since then, considerable research finds higher rates of IPV among dating couples than among married individuals. The data collected for the National Crime Victimization Survey support claims by advocates that the most dangerous time for women is when they leave a marital relationship. The victimization rate for women separated from their partners is 60 per 1,000 women, compared to 2 per 1,000 for married women. The rates for never-married women (8.5 per 1,000) and divorced or widowed women (6.5 per 1,000) also exceed the rate for married women (Catalano, 2012). Various other studies point out that the rate of IPV among cohabitating couples exceeds the rate for married couples (Catalano, 2012).