The development of a theory of women's use of violence in intimate relationships

Suzanne C Swan, David L Snow
Violence Against Women 2006, 12 (11): 1026-45
Reports have appeared in the popular press in recent years concluding that women are just as violent as men. These reports stem from acontextual survey studies comparing prevalence rates of women's and men's physical violence. The authors contend that the above conclusion is simplistic and misleading, and that a theoretical framework that embeds women's violence in the context in which it occurs is sorely needed. This article proposes a model that includes women's violence in the context of their victimization by male partners, motivations for violent behavior and how they cope with relationship problems, experiences of childhood trauma, and outcomes of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and substance use. The model is then examined within the context of gender, race, and class. The cultural context of domestic violence for African American and Latina women is reviewed. This literature reinforces the need to place women's violence in a broader sociocultural context.

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