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He Hits, She Hits: Assessing Gender Differences and Similarities in Officially Reported Intimate Partner Violence

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 30 Issue: 3 Dated: June 2003 Pages: 328-348
Date Published
June 2003
21 pages

This article assesses gender differences and similarities in officially reported cases of intimate partner violence.


The research literature regarding intimate partner violence (IPV) generally comes from two main perspectives, the family violence perspective and the feminist perspective. The family violence perspective holds that men and women experience roughly the same rate of victimization within the home, particularly when the violence is in the lower intensity range. On the other hand, the feminist perspective postulates that IPV is a gendered phenomenon in which women are victimized by their male partners or ex-partners. The authors seek to clarify this debate by examining issues of perpetration, victimization, context, and consequences of IPV found within the official reports of 2,670 cases of IPV in a large Midwestern city. Results of cross-tabulations with chi-square significance tests indicated that although there were a number of gender similarities in the data, important gender differences emerged. More specifically, 86 percent of the perpetrators were men while only 14 percent were women. Furthermore, female defendants in IPV cases were much more likely to be involved in cross-complaints than were male defendants. The latter finding lends support to the argument that the main reason women use violence against their male partner is to resist the violence perpetrated against them. Another important finding shows that male defendants’ actions are more serious and cause more fear for victims than do female defendants’ actions. The authors conclude that although gender similarities did emerge from the data, the gender differences were more profound and serious; lending support to the feminist perspective of IVP. Notes, references

Date Published: June 1, 2003