Social Stigma: The Family Institution

The family institution is arguably the most important and valued, owning to its socialization significance and history, but it is not without flaws. The traditional understanding of families is gradually vanishing, but some old concepts, such as their patriarchal nature, remain, as other institutions uphold them. As a result, what happens in the family may be considered a private issue, even if it is life-threatening, and the attempts to make it known could be met with hostility. The stigma exists despite families being different, although it should have no place in the modern world.

As already mentioned, one of the reasons society treats families as separate entities from itself could be a persisting idea that familial affairs are private, which is a result of extreme individualism and religious influences. In families where religion is important, it can hinder a woman’s ability to leave her partner, as it is shameful, and the husband’s misdemeanor should be a secret from the public (Westenberg, 2017). Even less attention is given to cohabitating relationships, which have an increased risk of domestic violence (Manning et al., 2016). Thus, it is important to combat the idea that a family exists independently from society and its laws. Everyone deserves their privacy, but if it is at the expense of another person’s life and health, they should face appropriate punishment.

Victim-blaming as far as families are concerned could have many reasons, ranging from patriarchal views to ageism. For instance, if it is a child suffering from abuse, which is a common occurrence, some may believe that it is justified because parents are always right. However, that idea cannot vanish overnight; it requires other institutions, such as education, religion, and mass media to promote the unacceptability of violent actions against children, the necessity of asking for help, and outside intervention. The same is true for spousal violence, whose causes could be traced to husbands refusing to accept new roles, and the old ones are associated with not treating abuse seriously (Stanziani et al., 2019). If other institutions reflect the shift and prepare individuals for multifaceted functions, such situations can become avoidable, and the stigma may transform into compassion. None of those suggestions are achievable without society recognizing the problem and trying to address it. A family alone cannot change much, but as communities start uniting and supporting each other instead of ignoring the issue, they will eventually come to the solution.


Manning, W. D., Longmore, M. A., & Giordano, P. C. (2016). Cohabitation and intimate partner violence during emerging adulthood: High constraints and low commitment. Journal of Family Issues, 39(4), 1030–1055.

Stanziani, M., Newman, A. K., Cox, J., & Coffey, C. A. (2019) Role call: sex, gender roles, and intimate partner violence. Psychology, Crime & Law, 26(3), 208-225.

Westenberg, L. (2017). “When she calls for help”—Domestic violence in Christian families. Social Sciences, 6(3), 71-81.