He Hits, She Hits: An Article Review

1)Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this article was to examine gender symmetry or asymmetry in intimate partner violenc (IPV ) offending and victimization through officially collected data and to add to the debate over gender symmetry or asymmetry in IPV perpetration and victimization by examining the context and consequences of these cases through officially collected data as opposed to through self reported data (Melton and Belknap, 2003)
2)Hypothesis to be tested

If more men committed a greater number of intimate partner violence, then, intimate partner violence is gender specific.
3)Description of the Sample

Data collected through pretrial services in a large Midwestern city were used to examine the gender differences and similarities in IPV perpetration and victimization among offenders and victims who have had contact with the criminal-processing system.
Staff  person was employed to work in the pretrial office to identify all of the misdemeanor IPV cases by using the prosecutor information and by reviewing the police reports sent to the pretrial office by the various agencies responding to those calls
Data collected through police reports, the authors explored   and consequences of these officially reported IPV cases
4)Description of the Research model Used

Ø  Family violence

·         Used randomly selected samples from the community

Used the Conflicts Tactics Scale (CTS) to measure domestic violence.
States that both men and women have same tendencyto commit violence and have same possibility to become victims of violence
Women are more often perpetrators of violence, men are more often the victims of IPV
IPV is not a problem of violence against women but a problem called “family violence”
Ø  Feminist Perspective

samples from shelters, hospitals and police reports
IPV is highly gendered
IPV is a social problem for women
Analyzed different surveys from the U.S. and Canada regarding crime and violence.
critique CTS ( not dealing with context, motivations, meanings,and consequences of IPV)
women use violence for delf-defence, to express emotion and escape violence while men are more likely to use violence to control and exercise power
problem with CTS is only one person in the relationship is interviewed
Reasons for Gap between the two perspectives (According to Johnson, M.P. ,1995)

ü  exaggerating women’s use of IPV

ü  women underreport the abuse

ü  use of different settings (phone call vs. court)

ü  use of different samples (clinical vs. community)

ü  methodological differences

2 forms of couple violence:

1. Common couple violence:

-consists of occasional outbursts of violence from either partner in response to everyday stimulus

-not gendered

-less a product of patriarchy and more of a culture that accepts violence in general

-rarely escalates into serious, life threatening violence

2. patriarchal terrorism

-a form of “terroristic control” of women by their male partners and expartners

– direct result of a historical tradition of men’s legal and social “right” to control women

-to be more serious, occur over a longer period of time, and be more likely to escalate

       into life-threatening violence


Gender differences based on the qualitative data

Seriousness of the threats made by the defendants -male description was more detailed
Threats about what would happen if victims called the police or went to court
–          women do not tell the whole story due to fear of threats

Patterns in abusive acts
– male’s defendant actions appeared more serious and severe

Male actions were more unusual (using weapons)
Causing fear (female reports fear)
Based on quantitative data

ü  Sample characteristics

Statistical test used: t-square

Differences on:

 Number of times they appeared in the model
-men appeared numerously because there were more male defendants than female defendants

Frequency of “cross-complaints” or “dual-arrest” cases
-female defendants were significantly more likely than male defendants to be involved in “cross-complaints” or “dual-arrest” cases where both parties were arrested because women tend to become violent to be able to defend themselves

ü  Differences in threats and physical abuse

Statistical Test used: Chi-square

male make threats more
male committed more shoving or pushing the victim, grabbing, pulling, restraining the victim, etc. women more likely to hit the male with objects
No significant difference in use of violence but female more likely uses weapons to compensate the male’s power
Injuries- no significant differences; female cause scratches while male causes bruises

v  Men were proven to become more seriously violent than women

v  Assessment of the context in which violence had occurred showed gender asymmetry.

5)Explanation of the findings in the Conclusion

ü  Men were more seriously violent because they intentionally use weapons, enforce threat and cause serious fear and damage to their female partner.


      MELTON, H. & BELKNAP, J. (2003) He hits, She hits: Assessing gender differences and similarities in officially reported intimate partner violence. Criminal Justice Behavior, 30, 328-348.


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