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Male Offenders: Our Understanding From the Data (From What Causes Men's Violence Against Women?, P 36-48, 1999, Michele Harway and James M. O'Neil, eds. -- See NCJ-180821)

NCJ Number
Richard J. Gelles
Date Published
13 pages
This chapter reviews the empirical research on men's violence toward women.
The first section examines the methodological approaches used to examine men's violence toward their intimate partners, and the second section reviews the research on risk factors for men's violence toward women. The chapter concludes by examining the empirical support for the 13 hypotheses proposed by O'Neil and Harway for explaining men's violence toward women. The risk factors identified and discussed are the experiencing and witnessing of violence as a child; individual characteristics, such as low self-esteem; the need to exert power and control; and social factors, which encompass age, employment, income, stress and marital conflict, social isolation, and alcohol and drugs. The summary of the empirical and theoretical support for the 13 hypotheses proposed by O'Neil and Harway groups them under the four categories used by O'Neil and Harway: macrosocietal explanations; biological, neuroanatomical, and hormonal explanations; men's restrictive and sexist gender-role socialization and specific patterns of gender-role conflict; and inter-gender relational explanations. The chapter concludes that no one factor can explain the presence or absence of men's violence in intimate relationships; however, the need to exercise power and control is common to nearly all forms of family and intimate violence. Thus, the effective treatment and prevention of family and intimate violence requires targeting the underlying causes of this need and how it manifests itself in the functioning of the family system.