New Study Suggests Need for Gender-Neutral Intimate Partner Violence Interventions

Intimate partner violence can have devastating psychological, social, and physical consequences. Young women who are involved with violent and aggressive partners are at increased risk for substance abuse, low self-worth, anxiety, depression, and physical harm. The stress that results from physical abuse can also negatively impact academic performance and social relationships. Estimates suggest that more than 20% of college students have experienced a violent romantic relationship. To better understand the frequency and persistency of violence within romantic relationships, Catherine Kaukinen of the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado recently led a study examining the violent perpetration and victimization experienced by college women in committed relationships.

Kaukinen gathered data from 546 female college students who were part of a larger study that focused on violent relationships. The women answered a survey that included over 160 questions relating to attitudes about violence and dating, violent family histories, and factors that increase the risk for violence within a relationship. The results of the survey revealed that the majority of women were not currently experiencing violence in their relationships. However, for those that were, the violence was mutual. Specifically, Kaukinen discovered that the women who reported the highest levels of victimization were also the most likely to commit violent acts toward their partners.

There were also some surprising findings from the survey. One such finding showed that women were more likely to engage in violent behaviors than their partners in relationships with bidirectional violence. Additionally, these same women were the recipients of violence less often than they were the initiators. This suggests that their violent behaviors were not always responses or defenses to victimization. Although the violence the women inflict may produce less physical harm than the violence inflicted by men, it no less problematic. Kaukinen also found that women involved with nonviolent men were less likely to exhibit violent behaviors than those involved with men who perpetrate violence. College campuses strive to address the dilemma of violent dating behavior, but these findings clearly point to the need for measures that focus on the behaviors of both men and women. Kaukinen added, “The high prevalence estimates in this study for women establish the need for gender neutral prevention, educational, and intervention activities.”

Kaukinen, C.,  Gover, A. R., Hartman, J. L. (2012). College women’s experiences of dating violence in casual and exclusive relationships. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 37.7, 146-162.

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  • Midette O

    Midette O

    May 10th, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    I am a little surprised to read that women are instigating just as much violence as the male partner. This is truly an eye opener for me because I like I would guess so many others always assumed that partner violence was more than likely comitted male against female. Never would I have thought that women were just as violent against their make partners. Although I would hazard a guess that this is in large part due to the underreporting of theviolent acts, presumably because most males would be horrified to admit that they were getting beaten up by their girlfriends or wife. I understand that they could be embarassed or afraid of retaliation but in order to make this violence stop then both men and women have to be willing to speak up when they are being abused.

  • Shelley


    May 10th, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Intimate partner violence is a very taboo subject that far too many people are afraid to talk about. It is even more humiliating when it is female on male violence, just because of society’s preconceived notions of what the relationship hierarchy is supposed to be. It is certainly a conversation that needs to be held.

  • ElleD


    May 11th, 2012 at 4:16 AM

    Making the intervention more gender neutral will be better for anyone who wants to talk but feels demeaned if this is happening to them and gives them an outlet for speaking out about what is happening to them, no matter whether they are a man or a woman.

  • Clarke


    May 11th, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    So girls have started fighting back- isn’t that what the feminists have been advocating for years? Are they happy now?

  • katydid


    May 12th, 2012 at 4:47 AM

    While I see that you report that most of the women offenders were not responding with this kind of violence because they are always taking up for themselevs, I personally know of none of my friends who would ever think to even hit another person unless they are provoked or trying to defend themselves. That is really strange to me to think that there is this whole other sub culture of women who abuse their mates that I really know nothing about. I am not acquainted with, and know nothing about the thought process. I get mad, and I walk away and cool down. What’s it like to have so much pent up anger that you choose to strike out instead?

  • Rob


    May 14th, 2012 at 4:24 AM

    Females have always had the capability to be just as physically menacing as many man.
    We are just now opening our eyes to that reality.

  • Jose Pablo

    Jose Pablo

    July 24th, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    These results should surprise no one. They have been around for years. The Feminist establishment has been so unbelievably successful in indoctrinating most of the western population that the results have remained in obscurity and if you google intimate partner violence, you´ll get a list of male-on-female violence studies long enough to carpet a highway to the moon.

    Even this particular study has not made it onto headlines… and it won´t. That´s just the way it always is. Bottom line, though: violence is a two-way street. The exceptions are nothing more than that: exceptions.

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