Men's and Women's Use of Intimate Partner Violence in Clinical Samples: Toward a Gender-Sensitive Analysis

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Early research with nationally representative samples suggested that women reported initiating violence as often as men. Such research has been criticized as focusing only on participation rates, and not assessing gender differences in impact, context, and motivation for using partner violence. Furthermore, research with nationally representative samples has been largely a-theoretical and may lack relevance to those working with clinical samples. Research with clinical populations has begun to address gender similarity and differences in the commission and experience of partner violence. The present article reviews research on men's and women's partner violence using a model for examining such gender differences that incorporates key elements of partner violence, including initiation of the overall pattern of partner violence, proportional initiation rates of violent episodes, physical and mental health impacts of partner violence, behavioral and emotional responses to partner-initiated violence, motivations for using partner violence, and fearfulness of partner-initiated violence. The review concludes that, within and across clinical samples, women are disproportionately victimized by partner violence compared to men. Implications for research, clinical programs, and policy development are discussed.

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