Although women do use violence against intimate partners, the ways in which they use violence, and the context in which this use occurs, are “historically, culturally, motivationally, and situationally distinct.”

Claims that men are battered as often as women do not take into account the fact that in a high percentage of cases, women’s use of violence is preceded by severe acts of violence by their partners. Women typically use violence in self-defense to control an immediate conflict situation, while men use violence to establish widespread authority over longer periods.

The use of violence has different consequences for men and women. Women more often recognize violence as contrary to their socially-prescribed gender roles and readily admit to using violence. Men typically minimize or deny the violence, reflecting a greater feeling of entitlement to use violence.

Reports of violence against men are also often exaggerated; men accused of domestic violence often minimize and deny their partners’ claims by arguing that the abuse was mutual or that they were the victims.

Adapted from Shamita Das Dasgupta, Towards an Understanding of Women’s Use of Non-Lethal Violence in Intimate Heterosexual Relationships (2001).

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