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Motivations for Men and Women’s Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration: A Comprehensive Review

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Abstract

The main purpose of this review article was to collect and summarize all available papers that reported empirical data related to men’s and women’s motivations for IPV. To facilitate direct gender comparisons, the motives reported in each obtained study were coded by the current authors into seven broad categories: (a) power/control, (b) self-defense, (c) expression of negative emotion (i.e., anger), (d) communication difficulties, (e) retaliation, (f) jealousy, and (g) other. Across the 75 samples (located in 74 articles) that were reviewed and coded for this study, 24 contained samples of only women (32%), 6 samples consisted of only men (8%), and 46 samples used both women and men (62%). Power/control and self-defense were commonly measured motivations (76% and 61%, respectively). However, using violence as an expression of negative emotion (63%), communication difficulties (48%), retaliation (60%), or because of jealousy (49%) were also commonly assessed motives. In 62% of the samples, at least one other type of motive was also measured. Only 18 of the located study samples (24%) included data that allowed for a direct gender comparison of men’s and women’s reported motivations. Many of these studies did not subject their data to statistical analyses. Among those that did, very few gender-specific motives for perpetration emerged. These results should be viewed with caution, however, because many methodological and measurement challenges exist in this field. There was also considerable heterogeneity across papers making direct gender comparisons problematic.

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