Casa de Misericordia Board Member Retreat

January 13, 2015

On January 13, 2015 the Casa de Misericordia Board gathered for their annual retreat at the Lamar Bruni Vergara Education Center. After tending to shelter board business, board members learned more about the common causes, triggers, and effects of domestic violence. While many board members, were well acquainted with the common signs of domestic violence and the possible remedies for victims and their families, the discussion about causes, risk factors, triggers, and effects further enriched board member’s understanding of a victim’s struggle. Our Board Members always strive to better understand the challenges and obstacles victims experience so they can enact shelter policies that truly empower and support families. Casa de Misericordia is blessed to have incredible board members. Each board member has made such a tremendous commitment to stand with victims on their path to safety.


Board members learned about the various theories around the causes of domestic violence. Domestic Violence experts have offered the following possible causes for violence in homes:
  • Biological: Some individuals experience trauma-induced changes in their brain development causing an onset of either learned or reactive aggressive behaviors.
  • Individual Psycho-Pathology: Some individuals respond with aggressive or controlling behaviors as a result of childhood exposure to violence.
  • Relationship Interaction: Some violent behavior is caused by an inherent imbalance of power and control within intimate and/or familial relationships.
  • Societal Structure: Some violent behavior stems from a larger cultural phenomenon of gender inequality and patriarchal attitudes.


Aside from the causes of domestic violence, many victim advocates across the country recognize several important risk factors and/or triggers for violent behaviors in the home.
  •  Early Parenthood: While early parenthood does not directly correlate to domestic violence, the stresses early parenthood presents for families can sometimes exacerbate an unstable home life..
  •  Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Many victims report that their abusers are most violent when he/she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That is not to say that substance use causes domestic violence, but it can nevertheless increase the risk of a violent encounter.
  •  Severe Poverty: It is widely known that domestic violence affects families of all cultural and economic backgrounds. Nevertheless, the stress resulting from poverty or recent unemployment can increase the likelihood of violence.
  •  Suicidal Tendencies: An abuser with suicidal ideations may be more inclined to engage in an act of violence against his/her partner.
  •  Weapons in the Home: Domestic violence advocates have long cautioned victims to be mindful of abusers who may keep weapons in the home.
  •  Paranoia: Mental illness and/or behavior disorders are not, on their own, causes for domestic violence, but an abuser having an lapse in treatment or medication may be more likely to engage in a violent act.
  •  Leaving an Abusive Relationship: A victim who leaves an abusive, jealous, and/or angry partner may find him or herself at risk of violence is heightened. Leaving remains one of the most dangerous times for a victim and her family.


Domestic Violence has a tremendous impact on victims, their families, and the extended community. Potential, long-term effects of domestic violence include:
  • Impact on a victim’s mental health: Domestic violence is known to lead to depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, and other behavioral disorders for victims and children alike.
  • Impact on victim’s routine: Many victim’s report sleep disturbances or loss of appetite.
  • Impact on victim’s physical health: The stress of surviving a violent relationship can exacerbate gastrointestinal disorders and heart disease.
  • Impact on children: Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness amongst families in the United States. Many children living in violent homes experience difficulty in school or an increase in risky behavior. Further, exposure to domestic violence can lead to a culture of acceptance or the normalization of violent behavior for future generations.


Board Members also learned how “toxic stress” can impact children in both violent and nonviolent homes. Learn more about toxic stress, at Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child. Check out their Website HERE.
Watch this great video about the power of community support: A Theory Of Change.
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