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Free Content Prevalence of Physical Violence in Intimate Relationships, Part 2: Rates of Male and Female Perpetration

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Physical violence perpetrated by men against their female partners is widely recognized as a serious social problem. Whether women's use of physical violence against their male partners represents a serious social problem remains a question under debate. We examined research published in the last 10 years to summarize the current state of knowledge regarding the prevalence of physical IPV perpetrated by men and women in heterosexual relationships. Our specific aims were to (a) describe the prevalence of physical IPV perpetration in industrialized, English-speaking nations, and (b) explore study and sample characteristics that affect prevalence. Literature searches undertaken in 3 databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science) identified 750 articles published between 2000 and 2010. We included 111 articles that reported 272 rates of physical IPV perpetration in our review: 25 articles reported 34 rates for men, 14 articles reported 24 rates for women, and 72 articles reported 214 rates for both men and women. The vast majority of studies were conducted in the United States (k = 95, 85.6%) and most (k = 81, 73.0%) measured IPV using a Conflict Tactics Scale-based approach. We calculated unweighted, pooled prevalence estimates for female and male perpetration overall and by sample type, country, measurement time frame, and measurement approach. Across studies, the overall pooled prevalence estimate was 24.8%. Consistent with prior reviews, pooled prevalence was slightly greater for female- compared to male-perpetrated physical IPV: more than 1 in 4 women (28.3%) and 1 in 5 men (21.6%) reported perpetrating physical violence in an intimate relationship. This pattern of results remained when we calculated pooled prevalence estimates by sample and study characteristics, with few exceptions. Findings underscore the need for interventions that acknowledge the use of violence by women in intimate relationships.

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Keywords: INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE; LITERATURE REVIEW; PERPETRATION; PHYSICAL ASSAULT; PREVALENCE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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  • Partner Abuse, a peer-reviewed journal, recognizes that physical and emotional abuse among dating, cohabitating and married partners is as a major public health and social problem in North America and around the world. Its purpose is to advance knowledge, practice and policies through a commitment to rigorous, objective research and evidence-based solutions. In addition to original research papers and literature reviews, the journal welcomes viewpoints and commentaries on the topic of partner abuse, as well as clinical case studies, book reviews and letters to the editor.
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