Gender symmetry in intimate partner violence (IPV) has come to light in research, stirring much controversy. Historically, there has been resistance toward re-conceptualizing the problem from a psychology-informed framework, rather than from functional sociological discourse. Issues in examining IPV, with consideration of typologies, male victimization, and female perpetration, are discussed. Reporting, outcomes, revictimization, and perceptions of male victims and female perpetrators are addressed. An argument is offered for increased focus on psychological science, including theory and data from clinical, couple, and family systems disciplines, in addressing partner violence. A framework is provided for integrated, effective, and accurate approaches to IPV in discourse, policy, and service.
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.
Ali, P. A., & Naylor, P. B. (2013). Intimate partner violence: A narrative review of the feminist, social and ecological explanations for its causation. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 18(6), 611–619. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2013.01.003.
Archer, J. (2000). Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 126(5), 651–680. doi:10.1037//0033-2909.126.5.651.
Babcock, J. C., Miller, S. A., & Siard, C. (2003). Toward a typology of abusive women: Differences between partner-only and generally violent women in the use of violence. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27(2), 153–161. doi:10.1111/1471-6402.00095.
Babcock, J. C., Green, C. E., & Robie, C. (2004). Does batterers’ treatment work?: A meta-analytic review of domestic violence treatment outcome research. Clinical Psychology Review, 23(8), 1023–1053. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2002.07.001.
Bair-Merritt, M. H., Crowne, S. S., Thompson, D. A., Sibinga, E., Trent, M., & Campbell, J. (2010). Why do women use intimate partner violence? A systematic review of women’s motivations. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 11(4), 178–189. doi:10.1177/1524838010379003.
Basile, S. (2005). A measure of court response to request for protection. Journal of Family Violence, 20(3), 171–179. doi:10.1007/s10896-005-3653-x.
Black, D. S., Sussman, S., & Unger, J. B. (2010). A further look at the intergenerational transmission of violence: witnessing interparental violence in emerging adulthood. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25(6), 1022–1042. doi:10.1177/0886260509340539.
Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., & Stevens, M. R. (2011). The national intimate partner and sexual violence survey (NISVS): 2010 summary report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf.
Brown, G. A. (2004). Gender as a factor in the response of the law-enforcement system to violence against partners. Sexuality and Culture, 8(3–4), 3–139. doi:10.1007/s12119-004-1000-7.
Caldwell, J. E., Swan, S. C., Allen, C. T., Sullivan, T. P., & Snow, D. L. (2009). Why I hit him: women’s reasons for intimate partner violence. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 18(7), 672–697. doi:10.1080/10926770903231783.
Cannon, E. A., Bonomi, A. E., Anderson, M. L., & Rivara, F. P. (2009). The intergenerational transmission of witnessing intimate partner violence. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 163(8), 706–708. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.91.
Cannon, C., Lauve-Moon, K., & Buttell, F. (2015). Re-theorizing intimate partner violence through post-structural feminism, queer theory, and the sociology of gender. Social Sciences, 4(3), 668–687. doi:10.3390/socsci4030668.
Carlyle, K. E., Scarduzio, J. A., & Slater, M. D. (2014). Media portrayals of female perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(13), 2394–2417. doi:10.1177/0886260513520231.
Cho, H. (2012). Examining gender differences in the nature and context of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(13), 2665–2684. doi:10.1177/0886260512436391.
Cook, P. W. (2009). Abused men: The hidden side of domestic violence (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger.
Copp, J. E., Giordano, P. C., Longmore, M. A., & Manning, W. D. (2016). The development of attitudes toward intimate partner violence: An examination of key correlates among a sample of young adults. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. doi:10.1177/0886260516651311.
Corbally, M. (2015). Accounting for intimate partner violence: A biographical analysis of narrative strategies used by men experiencing IPV from their female partners. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30(17), 3112–3132. doi: 10.1177/0886260514554429.
Donovan, R., & Vlais, R. (2005). VicHealth review of communication components of social marketing/public education campaigns focused on violence against women. Melbourne, Australia: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Retrieved from http://menengage.org/resources/vichealth-review-communications-components-social-marketingpublic-education-campaigns-focusing-violence-women/.
Douglas, E. M., & Hines, D. A. (2011). The helpseeking experiences of men who sustain intimate partner violence: an overlooked population and implications for practice. Journal of Family Violence, 26(6), 473–485. doi:10.1007/s10896-011-9382-4.
Dowd, L., & Leisring, P. A. (2008). A framework for treating partner aggressive women. Violence and Victims, 23(2), 249–263. doi:10.1891/0886-6708.23.2.249.
Dutton, D. G., & Corvo, K. (2006). Transforming a flawed policy: A call to revive psychology and science in domestic violence research and practice. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 11(5), 457–483. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2006.01.007.
Dutton, D. G., & Nicholls, T. L. (2005). The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and theory: Part 1—The conflict of theory and data. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10(6), 680–714. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2005.02.001.
Eckstein, J., & Cherry, J. N. (2015). Perceived characteristics of men abused by female partners: Blaming, resulting, blaming-excuses, or normal? Culture, Society and Masculinities, 7(2), 140–153. doi:10.3149/CSM.0702.140.
Eckstein, J. (2009). Communication, gender identity, stigma, and relational uncertainty among male and female victims of intimate partner violence (Order No. 3392005). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.
Edelen, M. O., McCaffrey, D. F., Marshall, G. N., & Jaycox, L. H. (2009). Measurement of teen dating violence attitudes: an item response theory evaluation of differential item functioning according to gender. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(8), 1243–1263. doi:10.1177/0886260508322187.
Ehrensaft, M. K., Cohen, P., Brown, J., Smailes, E., Chen, H., & Johnson, J. G. (2003). Intergenerational transmission of partner violence: a 20-year prospective study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(4), 741. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.71.4.741.
Feld, S. L., & Felson, R. B. (2008). Gender norms and retaliatory violence against spouses and acquaintances. Journal of Family Issues, 29(5), 692–703. doi:10.1177/0192513X07312093.
Felson, R. B., & Feld, S. L. (2009). When a man hits a woman: Moral evaluations and reporting violence to the police. Aggressive Behavior, 35(6), 477–488. doi:10.1002/ab.20323.
Felson, R. B., & Outlaw, M. C. (2007). The control motive and marital violence. Violence and Victims, 22(4), 387–407. doi:10.1891/088667007781553964.
Flood, M. (2006). Changing men: Best practice in sexual violence education. Women Against Violence, 18, 26–36.
Gomez, A. M. (2011). Testing the cycle of violence hypothesis: child abuse and adolescent dating violence as predictors of intimate partner violence in young adulthood. Youth & Society, 43(1), 171–192. doi:10.1177/0044118X09358313.
Graham-Kevan, N., & Archer, J. (2005). Investigating three explanations of women’s relationship aggression. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29(3), 270–277. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2005.00221.x.
Hamberger, L. K. (2005). Men’s and women’s use of intimate partner violence in clinical samples: toward a gender-sensitive analysis. Violence and Victims, 20(1), 131–152. doi:10.1891/0886-6708.2005.20.2.131.
Hamberger, L. K., & Guse, C. E. (2002). Men’s and women’s use of intimate partner violence in clinical samples. Violence Against Women, 8(11), 1301–1331. doi:10.1177/107780102762478028.
Hamel, J. (2014). Gender-inclusive treatment of intimate partner abuse: Evidence-based approaches (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.
Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2010). Intimate terrorism by women towards men: does it exist? Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 2(3), 36–56. doi:10.5042/jacpr.2010.0335.
Kar, H. L., & O'Leary, K. D. (2010). Gender symmetry or asymmetry in intimate partner victimization? not an Either/Or answer. Partner Abuse, 1(2), 152–168. doi:10.1891/1946-6522.214.171.124.
Kelly, J. B., & Johnson, M. P. (2008). Differentiation among types of intimate partner violence: research update and implications for interventions. Family Court Review, 46(3), 476–499. doi:10.1111/j.1744-1617.2008.00215.x.
Kernsmith, P. (2005). Exerting power or striking back: a gendered comparison of motivations for domestic violence perpetration. Victims and Violence, 20(2), 173–185. doi:10.1891/088667005780905605.
Leone, J. M., Lape, M. E., & Xu, Y. (2014). Women’s decisions to not seek formal help for partner violence: a comparison of intimate terrorism and situational couple violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(10), 1850–1876. doi:10.1177/0886260513511701.
Male Victims as Domestic Violence. (2007). –Myth. Retrieved from http://www.mencrytoo.homestead.com/myths.html.
Melander, L. A., Noel, H., & Tyler, K. A. (2010). Bidirectional, unidirectional, and nonviolence: a comparison of the predictors among partnered young adults. Violence and Victims, 25(5), 617–630. doi:10.1891/0886-6708.25.5.617.
Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Rutter, M., & Silva, P. A. (2001). Sex differences in antisocial behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Muftic, L., & Bouffard, J. (2007). An evaluation of gender differences in the implementation and impact of a comprehensive approach to domestic violence. Violence Against Women, 13(1), 46–69. doi:10.1177/1077801206295131.
Muller, H. J., Desmarais, S. L., & Hamel, J. M. (2009). Do judicial responses to restraining order requests discriminate against male victims of domestic violence? Journal of Family Violence, 24(8), 625–637. doi:10.1007/s10896-009-9261-4.
Myhill, A. (2015). Measuring coercive control: What can we learn from national population surveys? Violence Against Women, 21(3), 355–375. doi:10.1177/1077801214568032.
Poon, J., Dawson, M., & Morton, M. (2014). Factors increasing the likelihood of sole and dual charging of women for intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 20(12), 1447–1472. doi:10.1177/1077801214557954.
Prospero, M. (2007). Mental health symptoms among male victims of partner violence. American Journal of Men's Health, 1(4), 269-277. doi:10.1177/1557988306297794.
Rhatigan, D. L., Stewart, C., & Moore, T. M. (2011). Effects of gender and confrontation on attributions of female-perpetrated intimate partner violence. Sex Roles, 64(11), 875–887. doi:10.1007/s11199-011-9951-2.
Robertson, K., & Murachver, T. (2009). Attitudes and attributions associated with female and male partner violence. Journal of Applied Sociology, 39(7), 1481–1512. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00492.x.
Salazar, L. F., Baker, C. K., Price, A. W., & Carlin, L. (2003). Moving beyond the individual: examining the effects of domestic violence policies on social norms. American Journal of Community Psychology, 32(3), 253–264. doi:10.1023/B:AJCP.0000004746.31861.e7.
Scarduzio, J. A., Carlyle, K. E., Harris, K. L., & Savage, M. W. (2016). “Maybe she was provoked”: exploring gender stereotypes about male and female perpetrators of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women . doi:10.1177/1077801216636240.Advance online publication
Shernock, S., & Russel, B. (2012). Gender and racial/ethnic differences in criminal justice decision making in intimate partner violence cases. Partner Abuse, 3(4), 501–530. doi:10.1891/1946-65126.96.36.1991.
Shorey, R. C., Brasfield, H., Febres, J., & Stuart, G. L. (2011). The association between impulsivity, trait anger, and the perpetration of intimate partner and general violence among women arrested for domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(13), 2681–2697. doi:10.1177/0886260510388289.
Shuler, C. A. (2010). Male victims of intimate partner violence in the United States: an examination of review of literature through the critical theoretical perspective. International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, 5(1), 163–173.
Simmons, C., Lehmann, P., Cobb, N., & Fowler, C. (2005). Personality profiles of women and men arrested for domestic violence: an analysis of similarities and differences. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 41(4), 63–81. doi:10.1300/j076v41n04_03.
Sorenson, S. B., & Taylor, C. A. (2005). Female aggression toward male intimate partners: an examination of social norms in a community-based sample. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29(1), 78–96. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2005.00170.x.
Stewart, C., Moore, T., Crone, T., DeFreitas, S. C., & Rhatigan, D. (2012). Who gets blamed for intimate partner violence? The relative contributions of perpetrator sex category, victim confrontation, and observer attitudes. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(18), 3739–3754. doi:10.1177/0886260512447571.
Stith, S. M., Smith, D. B., Penn, C. E., Ward, D. B., & Tritt, D. (2004). Intimate partner physical abuse perpetration and victimization risk factors: a meta-analytic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10(1), 65–98. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2003.09.001.
Stover, C. S., Meadows, A. L., & Kaufman, J. (2009). Interventions for intimate partner violence: review and implications for evidence-based practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40(3), 223–233. doi:10.1037/a0012718.
Straus, M. A. (2006). Future research on gender symmetry in physical assaults on partners. Violence Against Women, 12(11), 1086–1097. doi:10.1177/1077801206293335.
Straus, M. A. (2014). Addressing violence by female partners is vital to prevent or stop violence against women: evidence from the multisite batterer intervention evaluation. Violence Against Women, 20(7), 889–899. doi:10.1177/1077801214545932.
Straus, M. A., Kaufman Kantor, G., & Moore, D. W. (1997). Change in cultural norms approving marital violence from 1968 to 1994. In G. Kaufman Kantor & J. L. Jasinski (Eds.), Out of darkness: contemporary perspectives on family violence (pp. 3–16). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Stuart, G. L., Moore, T. M., Gordon, K. C., Ramsey, S. E., & Kahler, C. W. (2006). Psychopathology in women arrested for domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21(3), 376–389. doi:10.1177/0886260505282888.
Swan, S. C., & Snow, D. L. (2006). The development of a theory of women’s use of violence in intimate relationships. Violence Against Women, 12(11), 1026–1045. doi:10.1177/1077801206293330.
Sylaska, K. M., & Walters, A. S. (2014). Testing the extent of the gender trap: college students’ perceptions of and reactions to intimate partner violence. Sex Roles, 70(3), 134–145. doi:10.1007/s11199-014-0344-1.
Tsui, V., Cheung, M., & Leung, P. (2012a). Help-seeking among male victims of partner abuse: men’s hard times. Journal of Community Psychology, 38(6), 769–780. doi:10.1002/jcop.20394.
Tsui, V., Cheung, M., & Leung, P. (2012b). Male victims in heterosexual intimate partner violence: a framework explaining help-seeking reluctance. International Journal of Psychology Research, 7(1), 1–21.
Tsui, V., Cheung, M., & Leung, P. (2010). Help-seeking among male victims of partner abuse: men's hard times. Journal of Community Psychology, 38(6), 769-780. doi: 10.1002/jcop.20394
Whitaker, M. P. (2014). Motivational attributions about intimate partner violence among male and female perpetrators. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(3), 517–535. doi:10.1177/0886260513505211.
Whitaker, D. J., Morrison, S., Lindquist, C., Hawkins, S. R., O’Neil, J. A., Nesius, A. M., & Reese, L. R. (2006). A critical review of interventions for the primary prevention of perpetration of partner violence. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 11(2), 151–166. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2005.07.007.
Whitaker, D. J., Haileyesus, T., Swahn, M., & Saltzman, L. S. (2007). Differences in frequency of violence and reported injury between relationships with reciprocal and nonreciprocal intimate partner violence. American Journal of Public Health, 97(5), 941–947. doi:10.2105/ajph.2005.079020.
White, H. R., & Widom, C. S. (2003). Intimate partner violence among abused and neglected children in young adulthood: the mediating effects of early aggression, antisocial personality, hostility and alcohol problems. Aggressive Behavior, 29(4), 332–345. doi:10.1002/ab.10074.
Williams, S. L., & Frieze, I. H. (2005). Patterns of violent relationships, psychological distress, and marital satisfaction in a National sample of men and women. Sex Roles, 52(11–12), 771–785. doi:10.1007/s11199-005-4198-4.
Williams, J. R., Ghandour, R. M., & Kub, J. E. (2008). Female perpetration of violence in heterosexual intimate relationships: adolescence through adulthood. Trauma Violence Abuse, 9(4), 227–249. doi:10.1177/1524838008324418.
About this article
Cite this article
Espinoza, R.C., Warner, D. Where Do We Go from here?: Examining Intimate Partner Violence by Bringing Male Victims, Female Perpetrators, and Psychological Sciences into the Fold. J Fam Viol 31, 959–966 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-016-9881-4
- Gender symmetry
- Intimate partner violence
- Male victims
- Female perpetration
- Public perception
- Batterer treatment