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Conflict and Control: Gender Symmetry and Asymmetry in Domestic Violence

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 12 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2006 Pages: 1003-1018
Michael P. Johnson
Date Published
November 2006
16 pages
This article identifies and describes four types of intimate partner violence and calls for researchers to make distinctions between them in their studies.
The main argument is that there are four distinct types of intimate partner violence and that the failure of researchers to distinguish between them in their studies has rendered the research literature on domestic violence largely uninterpretable. The four types of intimate partner violence are identified as: (1) intimate terrorism in which the individual is violent and controlling but the partner is not; (2) violent resistance in which the individual is violent but not controlling and the partner is violent and controlling; (3) situational couple violence in which the individual is violent but the individual and partner are not violent and controlling; and (4) mutual violent control in which both the individual and the partner are violent and controlling. The author asserts that researchers need to distinguish between these types of intimate partner violence in their studies because the different types of violence have different causes, different patterns of development, different consequences, and they require different forms of intervention. Research is presented that shows that situational couple violence is the most prevalent type of intimate partner violence included in general surveys while intimate terrorism and violence resistance are the predominate types of intimate partner violence found among agency samples, which has resulted in skewed research findings and conclusions. The author recommends that future research should focus on gathering information about the variety of control tactics used by both members of the couple and then use this information to create a typology of controlling and noncontrolling violence. Tables, notes, references