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Why the Overwhelming Evidence on Partner Physical Violence by Women Has Not Been Perceived and Is Often Denied

NCJ Number
Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma Volume: 18 Issue: 6 Dated: September 2009 Pages: 552-571
Date Published
September 2009
20 pages

This article suggests explanations for the misperception of the high rate of female partner violence (PV) by the public and service providers, and explanations for hiding and denying the evidence on gender symmetry by academics.


Treatment of existing clinical-level cases of PV requires continuing to include justice system interventions as an expression of social norms condemning PV, to protect victims, and to mandate treatment. As in the case of the primary prevention, research has shown that psychological problems such as antisocial and borderline personality are major risk factors for clinical-level PV. Consequently, treatment of existing cases needs to expand from efforts to end patriarchal dominance to include diagnosis for these psychological problems and treatment when identified. A tragic irony is that the denial that obstructs this needed fundamental change in prevention and treatment of PV is largely motivated by a concern with the safety of women. The tragedy associated with this irony is that, rather than enhancing the safety and well-being of women, these denials block key steps that could increase the effectiveness of the effort to reduce violence against women. Table, figure, and references

Date Published: September 1, 2009