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Women Who Initiate Domestic Violence

© Peter Zohrab 2011

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The following are all the hits resulting from a search for the word "initiate" on the page: References Examining Assaults by Women on their Spouses or Male Partners: an Annotated Bibliography, as it was on 13 November 2011.


Amendt, G. (2008). I didn’t divorce my kids!: How fathers deal with family break-ups. Campus Verlag Publishers. (In Chapter 5 author presents data from an internet survey of 3600 divorced German fathers. Results reveal that 1/3 of men reported episodes of physical violence during the divorce process and 2/3 of these were initiated by ex-partners.)

Bland, R., & Orne, H. (1986). Family violence and psychiatric disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 31, 129-137. (In interviews with 1,200 randomly selected Canadians <489 men, 711 women> found that women both engaged in and initiated violence at higher rates than their male partners.)

Capaldi, D. M, Kim, H. K., & Shortt, J. W. (2004). Women's involvement in aggression in young adult romantic relationships. In M. Putallaz and K. L. Bierman (Eds.). Aggression, Antisocial Behavior, and Violence Among Girls (pp. 223-241). New York: Guildford Press. (A review chapter which reports on data obtained from Oregon Youth Study and Couples Study. Authors conclude that "Young women were observed to initiate physical aggression toward their partners more frequently than were the young men." And "the relative prevalence of frequent physical aggression by women and of injury and fear for men was surprisingly high.")

Claxton-Oldfield, S. & Arsenault, J. (1999). The initiation of physically aggressive behaviour by female university students toward their male partners: Prevalence and the reasons offered for such behaviors. Unpublished manuscript. (In a sample of 168 actively dating female undergraduates at a Canadian university, 26% indicated that they initiated physical aggression toward their male partners. Most common reason for such behavior was because partner was not listening to them.)

Fiebert, M. S., & Gonzalez, D. M. (1997). Women who initiate assaults: The reasons offered for such behavior. Psychological Reports, 80, 583-590. (A sample of 968 women, drawn primarily from college courses in the Southern California area, were surveyed regarding their initiation of physical assaults on their male partners. 29% of the women, n=285, revealed that they initiated assaults during the past five years. Women in their 20's were more likely to aggress than women aged 30 and above. In terms of reasons, women appear to aggress because they did not believe that their male victims would be injured or would retaliate. Women also claimed that they assaulted their male partners because they wished to engage their attention, particularly emotionally.)

George, M. J. (2003). Invisible touch. Aggression & Violent Behaviour, 8, 23-60. (A comprehensive review and analysis of female initiated partner aggression. Historical, empirical and case evidence presented to demonstrate reality of "battered husband syndrome.")

Gonzalez, D. M. (1997). Why females initiate violence: A study examining the reasons behind assaults on men. Unpublished master's thesis, California State University, Long Beach. (225 college women participated in a survey which examined their past history and their rationales for initiating aggression with male partners. Subjects also responded to 8 conflict scenarios which provided information regarding possible reasons for the initiation of aggression. Results indicate that 55% of the subjects admitted to initiating physical aggression toward their male partners at some point in their lives. The most common reason was that aggression was a spontaneous reaction to frustration).

Goodyear-Smith, F. A. & Laidlaw, T. M. (1999). Aggressive acts and assaults in intimate relationships: Towards an understanding of the literature. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 17, 285-304. (An up to date scholarly analysis of couple violence. Authors report that, “...studies clearly demonstrate that within the general population, women initiate and use violent behaviors against their partners at least as often as men.”

LeJeune, C., & Follette, V. (1994). Taking Responsibility. Sex Differences in reporting dating violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9, 133-140. (A sample of 465 college students <58.3% male, 41.7% female> responded to a mailed survey of CTS items. Results reveal that 42.4% of female respondents report that they "usually initiate violent acts in their relationship" compared to 14.3% of male respondents who report "that they usually initiate violence." Females also report that 39.4% of their male partners initiate violence while 52.4% of males report that violence is initiated by their female partners. Authors speculate that this discrepancy suggests that "females are more likely than males to accept responsibility for initiating violence.")

Lewis, S. F., & Fremouw, W. (2001). Dating violence: A critical review of the literature. Clinical Psychology Review, 21, 105-127. (Authors examine the literature and state that, "there is ample evidence that females initiate more violence than males." Discusses explanations for these findings as well as "deficits in the present body of literature including sampling methods, dependent measures and data analyses.")

Stets, J. E. & Pirog-Good, M. A. (1989). Patterns of physical and sexual abuse for men and women in dating relationships: A descriptive analysis, Journal of Family Violence, 4, 63-76. (Examined a sample of 287 college students <118 men and 169 women> and found similar rates for men and women of low level physical abuse in dating relationships. More women than men were pushed or shoved <24% vs 10%> while more men than women were slapped <12% vs 8%>. In term of unwanted sexual contact 22% of men and 36% of women reported such behavior. The most frequent category for both men <18%> and women <19%> was the item, "against my will my partner initiated necking".)

Straus, M. A. (2005). Women's violence toward men is a serious social problem. In D. R. Loseke, R. J. Gelles, & M. M. Cavanaugh (Eds.), Current Controversies on Family Violence, 2nd Edition, (pp. 55-77). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. (A scholarly review of research showing that women initiate physical assaults on their male partners as frequently as men assault women. Examines the fact that injuries and fatalities result from such violence.)

Straus, M. A. (2008). Dominance and symmetry in partner violence by male and female university students in 32 nations. Children and Youth Services Review, 30, 252-275. (A convenience sample of 13,601 students <71.5% women, 28.5% men> at 68 universities in 32 countries completed the CTS2. Findings reveal that almost a third of students assaulted their dating partners in a 12 month period. In terms of initiation, mutual aggression accounted for 68.6% of physical violence, while women initiated violence 21.4% of the time and men initiated violence 9.9% of the time.)

Williams, S. L., & Frieze, I. H. (2005b). Patterns of violent relationships, psychological distress, and marital satisfaction in a national sample of men and women. Sex Roles, 52 (11/12), 771-784. (Data from a National Comorbidity Survey was examined. In a sample of 3,519 men and women it was found that 18.4% were involved in a violent relationship. Most violence, both mild and severe, was mutual. However, women were more likely than men to initiate both mild and severe violence.)




Peter Douglas Zohrab

Latest Update

10 July 2015