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When battered women use violence: husband-abuse or self-defense?

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Violence and victims
Publication Date
Volume
1
Issue
1
Pages
47–60
Identifiers
PMID: 3154140
Source
Medline

Abstract

A controversy exists regarding the nature of violence committed by women against their intimate partners. When battered women are violent it is not known if the violence should be labeled "mutual combat," "husband abuse," or "self-defense." Following a review of studies comparing the extent of husbands' and wives' victimization and some conceptual issues regarding self-defense, data are presented from 52 battered women on their motives for using violence against their partners. The most frequent reason for violence reported by the women was for self-defense. Only one woman reported initiating an attack with severe violence in more than half of her violent acts. Only eight percent of the women reported that nonsevere violence was used to initiate an attack more than half of the time. The concepts of "self-defense" and "fighting back" were significantly and positively correlated; that is, many women saw them as being the same. The women's self-reports were not contaminated by social desirability response bias. The results are discussed in the context of the need to collect data on relevant explanatory variables in family violence research and the application of a feminist perspective to reduce bias in such research.

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