Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Framework to Understand Family Violence

A framework to understand woman abuse consists of the following four levels:


What is involved?

Examples of factors


The individual history of the partners

Witnessing domestic violence as a child and experiencing abuse as a child, mental illness, and substance use/abuse.



The family setting in which the abuse occurs

Male authority and dominance in the family, male control of wealth in the family, marital conflict, stress, and use of alcohol.



The social networks in which the family participates

People and structures that have an immediate influence on the family to determine what occurs at home including the neighbourhood, schools, workplace, both informal and formal social networks, and identity groups in one’s own community.



The culture and society-at large

(a) the society’s identification of masculinity with dominance, toughness, and honour; (b) rigid gender roles; (c) a sense of male entitlement, authority, and ownership over women; (c) religious approval of physical chastisement of women; and (d) a cultural ethos that condones violence as a means of settling interpersonal disputes.

People and their environments are understood in the context of their continuous and reciprocal relationships.

Women and Children
Woman Abuse: Screening, Identification and Initial Response
Background Information