Although domestic violence occurs in all types of relationships, non-prototypical cases (e.g., gay male, lesbian, female-against-male) are often overlooked. We replicated and extended previous research demonstrating that perceptions of heterosexual and same-sex domestic violence are generally consistent with gender-role stereotypes. Male and female undergraduates read one of four domestic abuse cases varying by victim and perpetrator sex and sexual orientation. Victim sex, ratherthan sexual orientation, was the most potent predictor of responses, although male-against-female violence was considered the most serious and deserving of active intervention. Domestic violence perpetrated by men or against women was judged more serious than violence perpetrated by women or against men. Perceptions that male perpetrators were more capable of injuring victims, and female victims were more likely to suffer serious injury were consistent with gender-role stereotypes.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Brand, P. A., and Kidd, A. H. (1986). Frequency of physical aggression in heterosexual and female homosexual dyads. Psychologic. Rep. 59: 1307–1313.
Burke, D. M., Ames, M. A., Etherington, R., and Pietsch, J. (1990). Effects of victim's and defendant's physical attractiveness on the perception of responsibility in an ambiguous domestic violence case. J. Fam. Violence 5: 199–207.
Connolly, C., Huzurbazar, S., and Routh-McGee, T. (2000). Multiple parties in domestic violence situations and arrest. J. Crim. Just. 28: 181–188.
da Luz, C. M. (1994). A legal and social comparison of heterosexual and same-sex domestic violence: Similar inadequacies in legal recognition and response. South. California Rev. Law Women's Stud. 4: 251.
Feather, N. T. (1996). Domestic violence, gender, and perceptions of justice. Sex Roles 35: 507–519.
Gerber, G. L. (1991). Gender stereotypes and power: Perceptions of the roles in violent marriages. Sex Roles 24: 439–458.
Harris, R. J., and Cook, C. A. (1994). Attributions about spouse abuse: It matters who the batterers and victims are. Sex Roles 30: 553–565.
Home, A. M. (1994). Attributing responsibility and assessing gravity in wife abuse situations: A comparative study of police and social workers. J. Soc. Serv. Res. 19: 67–84.
Island, D., and Letellier, P. (1991). Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence, Binghamton, NY: Haworth.
Koss, M. P. (1990). The women's mental health research agenda: Violence against women. Am. Psychol. 45: 374–380.
Letellier, P. (1996). Twin epidemics: Domestic violence and HIV infection among gay and bisexual men. In Renzetti, C. M. and Miley, C. H. (eds.), Violence in Gay and Lesbian Domestic Partnerships, Harrington Park, Binghamton, NY, pp. 69–82.
Lockhart, L., White, B. A., Causby, V., and Isaac, A. (1994). Letting out the secret: Violence in lesbian relationships. J. Interpers. Violence 9: 469–493.
Lundy, S. E. (1993). Abuse that dare not speak its name: Assisting victims of lesbian and gay domestic violence in Massachusetts. New Engl. Law Rev. 28: 273–311.
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (1998, October 6). Annual Report on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Domestic Violence, Department of Justice, Washington, DC.
O'Toole, R., and Webster, S. (1988). Differentiation of family mistreatment: Similarities and differences by status of the victim. Deviant Behav. 9: 347–368.
Pierce, M. C., and Harris, R. J. (1993). The effect of provocation, race, and injury description on men's and women's perceptions of a wife-battering incident. J. Appl. Soc. Psychol. 23: 767–790.
Poorman, P. B., Seelau, E. P., and Seelau, S. M. (2003). Perceptions of Domestic Abuse in Same-Sex Relationships and Implications for Criminal Justice and Mental Health Responses, Violence and Victims, 18, 659–669.
Rennison, C. M., and Welchans, S. (2000). Intimate partner violence. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. (NCJ 178247).
Renzetti, C. M. (1988). Violence in lesbian relationships: A preliminary analysis of causal factors. J. Interpers. Violence 3: 381–399.
Renzetti, C. M. (1989). Building a second closet: Third-party responses to victims of lesbian partner abuse. Fam. Relations 38: 157–163.
Renzetti, C. M. (1992). Violent Betrayal: Partner Abuse in Lesbian Relationships, Sage, Newbury Park, CA.
Seelau, E. P., Seelau, S. M., and Poorman, P. B. (in press). Gender and role-based perceptions of domestic abuse: Does sexual orientation matter? Behavioral Sciences and the Law.
Sherrod, D., and Nardi, P. (1998). Homophobia in the courtroom: An assessment of biases against gay men and lesbians in a multiethnic sample. In Herek, G. (ed.), Stigma and Sexual Orientation: Understanding Prejudice Against Lesbians, Gay Men, and Bisexuals, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 24–38.
Sloan, L., and Edmond, T. (1996). Shifting the focus: Recognizing the needs of lesbian and gay survivors of sexual violence. J. Gay Lesbian Soc. Serv. 5: 33–51.
Stalans, L. J. (1996). Family harmony or individual protection? Am. Behav. Scientist 39: 433–448.
Summers, G., and Feldman, N. S. (1984). Blaming the victim versus blaming the perpetrator: An attributional analysis of spouse abuse. J. Soc. Clin. Psychol. 2: 339–347.
Turell, S. T. (2000). A descriptive analysis of same-sex relationship violence for a diverse sample. J. Fam. Violence 15: 281–293.
Violence Against Women Act, (1994). Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, [Public Law 103–322].
Violence Against Women Act of 2000. (2000). [Public Law 106–386].
Waldner-Haugrud, L., and Gratch, L. (1997). Sexual coercion in gay/lesbian relationships: Descriptives and gender differences. Violence Vict. 12: 87–96.
Waldner-Haugrud, L., Gratch, L., and Magruder, B. (1997). Victimization and perpetration rates of violence in gay and lesbian relationships: Gender issues explored. Violence Vict. 12: 173–182.
Willis, C. E., Hallinan, M. N., and Melby, J. (1996). Effects of sex role stereotyping among European American students on domestic violence culpability attributions. Sex Roles 34: 475–491.
Wise, A., and Bowman, S. (1997). Comparison of beginning counselors' responses to lesbian vs. heterosexual partner abuse. Violence Vict. 12: 127–134.
About this article
Cite this article
Seelau, S.M., Seelau, E.P. Gender-Role Stereotypes and Perceptions of Heterosexual, Gay and Lesbian Domestic Violence. J Fam Viol 20, 363 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-005-7798-4
- domestic violence
- intimate partner violence
- gay men