Skip to main content

Where Do We Go from here?: Examining Intimate Partner Violence by Bringing Male Victims, Female Perpetrators, and Psychological Sciences into the Fold

Abstract

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.

Fig. 1

References

  1. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 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.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  9. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Cook, P. W. (2009). Abused men: The hidden side of domestic violence (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Praeger.

    Google Scholar 

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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/.

    Google Scholar 

  19. 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.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  20. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Felson, R. B., & Outlaw, M. C. (2007). The control motive and marital violence. Violence and Victims, 22(4), 387–407. doi:10.1891/088667007781553964.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Flood, M. (2006). Changing men: Best practice in sexual violence education. Women Against Violence, 18, 26–36.

    Google Scholar 

  31. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Hamel, J. (2014). Gender-inclusive treatment of intimate partner abuse: Evidence-based approaches (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  36. 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.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  37. 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:10.1891/1946-6560.1.2.152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Male Victims as Domestic Violence. (2007). –Myth. Retrieved from http://www.mencrytoo.homestead.com/myths.html.

  42. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Rutter, M., & Silva, P. A. (2001). Sex differences in antisocial behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  44. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  51. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. 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

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. 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:10.1891/1946-6560.3.4.501.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. 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.

    Google Scholar 

  56. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  59. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  62. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  63. 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.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  64. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  65. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  66. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. 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.

  69. 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

  70. 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.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  71. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. 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.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  73. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. 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.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. 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.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Reginaldo Chase Espinoza.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

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

Download citation

Keywords

  • Gender symmetry
  • Intimate partner violence
  • IPV
  • Male victims
  • Female perpetration
  • Revictimization
  • Public perception
  • Batterer treatment