Family violence is any family interaction intended to cause physical or harm or distress. The degree of harm or distress actually incurred may be greater or less, given the level of disturbance experienced. When violence has part of normal family experience over the years, at times family members wear an emotional armor. Sometimes, a family characterized by violence has no resource beyond violence to express intimacy and sustain “close” family interactions.
Anger and power are often confused with violence. Family violence is not the same as “family fights”. Whereas family violence involves intentional harm or distress, in all human relationships there are conflicts of will and expressing one's wants and needs, even forcefully, needs not entail violence. The “family cauldron” is no stranger to anger, slights,competition, sadness, hurts, and resentments.
Power is an important human virtue. Power is the ability to act, meet one's needs, effect change. A powerful family is an effective family. When a family or family members experience powerlessness then abusive situations –which, at the core, are the misuse of power – occur. “Power to” and “power over”are two different dynamics. The need to control can easily cross the border into violence.