Towards an integrated theory of relational violence: Is bullying a risk factor for domestic violence?

Kenneth N Corvo, Ellen deLara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations


Etiological exploration using the constructs "domestic violence" and "intimate partner violence" as phenomena of adult enactment, remains relatively isolated from inquiry into bullying. The prevailing policy view of domestic violence is that it is a product of socially sanctioned domination of women by men. Bullying is framed often from the standpoint of aggression and psychological deficits found in the bully. Risk factors and developmental antecedents of domestic violence may overlap with similar risk factors in bullying. From the standpoint of individual developmental chronology, bullying precedes domestic violence, but it is not known whether bullying itself is a risk factor for domestic violence in adulthood or if bullying and domestic violence simply have risk factors in common. In this paper, varying theoretical analyses are examined in light of available empirical data on risk, etiology, and patterns of enactment. Although a broader range of explanatory theory in both domestic violence and bullying is considered, psychological and developmental processes are emphasized. This integrated review of the literature supports a better theoretical understanding of the links between bullying and domestic violence and also contributes to an expanded theoretical view of violence overall. Conclusions include detailed recommendations for further empirical study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010



  • Bullying
  • Domestic violence
  • Relational aggression
  • Violence theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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