The family institution is critical in shaping individual traits and personalities. Therefore, family contributes to the emotional, psychological and social behavior of individuals. The atmosphere in the family setting may conduce or be destructive in the mental well being of its members. The influences of the intrinsic factors that affect families like parenting, cultural practices, social and economic well being or religion are crucial (Mayer, 2000). These factors determine an individual’s perspective, ideology and beliefs towards the opposite sex. Therefore, the family can be characterized as the initial determinant of sexual violence. However, it is only responsible for sexual violence to the extent of its influence directly or indirectly on the individual.
In cases where the family relationship is abusive to the children or one of the parents; it is likely that the children will act out likely to their abusive family relationship or poor child-parent relationships. Deficiencies in a child’s upbringing may contribute significantly towards his/her social and psychological behavior (Scully, 1990). However, the nature of sexual violence will vary from one offender to the other. Sexual violence may be a reaction to separation from parents, neglect or physical abuse to a child (Goode, 1971). The family environment can also be critical in the triggering sexual violence cases. Religious beliefs in a family characterized by views to the opposite sex members as inferior and submissive may influence sexual violence.
Social and cultural practices are significant contributors to sexual violence. In the family setting, it is the norm for the male family members to lead, provide and protect their families. However, the economic dynamics affecting the society have seen a significant number of women providing their families. These dynamics changed the social-cultural beliefs of the family and may illustrate the men as the inferior members; therefore, such perception and the need to assert their position may affect their mental or emotional state leading to acts of sexual violence (Itzin, 2010). Significant factors that lead to sexual violence like alcoholism, attitudes, personality traits and gender schemas are attributable to the offender's family setting and relationships.