Does violence involving women and intimate partners have a special etiology?

Richard B. Felson, Kelsea Jo Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


We used data from a survey of inmates who have committed homicide or assault to examine whether men and women who have killed or assaulted their intimate partners are different from other violent offenders. A " gender perspective" implies that intimate partner violence and violence between the sexes have different etiologies than other types of violence, whereas a " violence perspective" implies that they have similar etiologies. Our evidence supports a violence perspective. In general, offenders who attack their partners are similar to other offenders in terms of their prior records, alcohol and drug use, and experiences of abuse. We observed some differences between men who attack women (including their female partners) and other male offenders, but the differences were opposite those predicted by a gender perspective. For example, men who attacked their partners were particularly likely to have been abused by their partners. In addition, men who attacked women were particularly likely to have experienced sexual abuse during childhood and to have been intoxicated at the time of the incident. These results suggest that some well-known predictors of violence are particularly strong predictors of male violence against women and female partners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-338
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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