I think that you might receive different answers to this particular question. Family violence involves domestic violence towards both spouses as well as children. It helps to create an extremely unhealthy and dangerous atmosphere within the family unit as it displays that problems and consciousness revolves around violence and deliberate cruelty to family members. Part of what makes this so very challenging to treat is that some families see it as a "private issue," clouding open and full disclosure in manners of treating and remedying it. It has a profound impact on family members and children as family violence weakens positive bonds within the family unit and creates an emotional atmosphere that is personally and socially destructive, as individuals begin to understand that violence and cruelty underscore any emotional relationship. For one of the best films on the subject, I would highly recommend watching Paul Schrader's "Affliction." In terms of what can be done, I think that public efforts to move such a condition into the realm of the public is a great launching point. No longer can family violence be seen as a "private issue," for it can be punished through the law. This helps bring the issue out into the open. Such movement into the disenfecting power of sunlight can offer up treatment options and full disclosure as to the conditions that allow it to exist and hopefully offer up new and less destructive means to express anger and sadness.
I have seen that family violence is often learned and carried down from generation to generation. In other words, if a parent is physically abusive to their children then there is chance that those children will be physically violent towards their own children as well.
Violence comes in many forms. It can be physical or emotional. A person does not have to physically harm someone in order for it to be considered abuse.
Family violence affects families in many negative ways. First of all, it teaches them the wrong way to deal with problems and emotions. Children who are physically abused are often confused and feel like they are to blame.
One of the best ways to eradicate family violence is through education. People need to be taught how to deal with their emotions on a more positive level.
If you believe Biblical history, the first act of family violence began when Cain killed his brother, Abel. So, violence within the family has no doubt been occurring since the early days of human existence. As the previous post mentioned, children were often punished in much more physical ways than the excepted standards today. My mother and father used a belt across the legs for severe punishment; my grandmother used a switch. I never recall a time when I didn't deserve being punished, and I considered it as such and not true physical violence. Today, such acts often get parents arrested. A recent event made national news when an old woman slapped her insolent granddaughter. The granddaughter called the police, and the grandmother was arrested for assault. Laws have been enacted to reduce physical violence by their parents against children, and what was once considered an accepted punishment is now often reasons for arrest. However, parents will sometimes lose their tempers (or use forceful means as punishment) no matter the circumstances, so, sadly, physical violence within the family will continue today and in the future.
The question is too large for us to answer in our limited space, but let me get you started. First, there is no specific time, date or culture of when family violence began. It very likely dates to the origins of the family unit altogether. In the United States, the way in which children were punished for breaking the rules was often semi-violent (spanking) or violent (whipping, hitting, etc.). That is to say it was both legal and socially acceptable, even socially expected in some time periods.
The way it affects family members, one could argue, is that it creates a climate of fear within families/households. It socializes the children to believe this is acceptable, and more often than not teaches the young boys to mete out such punishment later in their own families, and teaches the girls to endure it. Something should also be said about how it was legal for a very long time, and then even when it wasn't, it was rarely prosecuted. It's still somewhat of a social taboo today to speak of it.
Education and awareness is the best way to eradicate it. That, and raising your own children to know that such behavior is never tolerated or acceptable.
We like it or not, violence has been as old as manknid. Violence was there when there was no family system as such. Violence may be direct or immediate--both physical and mental. Even abusive language is a form of violence. Violence within the family structure, i.e. domestic violence may be of various sorts--sexual violence, physical tortures, temporary confinement, mental coercion, neglect, discrimination, foul tongue and so on.
Violence is a tool to exercise/exhibit power, to terrorise, dominate, subjugate and impose in an unfair, coercive way. Therefore, all forms of domestic violence are bound to seriously affect the members at the receiving end. Since children are the common victims of domestic violence, their physical as well as mental health, education, attitude to society and life are adversly affected. Children who are victims of such violence lose their confidence, their belief in good things of life, their moral integrity, their sympathy for others, their hopes and aspirations. They get depressed, drop out from their studies, tend to disobey the standard values of family/social life, become crime-prone.
Eradication of all sorts of violence in the family is a very difficult task. Awareness and education are of great importance in mitigating violence. There are laws to curb acts of domestic violence, but they are rarely enforced. Goverment and social organisations should work in tandem to intervene and enforce the laws. Violence is a very old and deep-rooted cultural problem, and it evades any easy, time-bound solution.