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Clin Psychol Rev. 2006 May;26(3):321-45. Epub 2005 Dec 15.

A critical review of theories to explain violent relationship termination: implications for research and intervention.

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  • 1One Main Street, Department of Social Sciences, University of Houston-Downtown, Houston, TX 77002, USA.


The following review represents an update and extension to an influential article (see [Strube, M.J. (1988). The decision to leave an abusive relationship: Empirical evidence and theoretical issues. Psychological Bulletin, 104, 236-250.]), which evaluated empirical research and suggested potential theories to explain victimized women's decisions to terminate violent relationships. In contrast to the original review, this paper provides information on the importance of and means by which theory should be evaluated and critically determines which theoretical approach(es) might be most productive based on theoretical and atheoretical evidence. In addition, this paper discusses strengths and weaknesses of each approach, in light of certain criteria deemed to be important for the evaluation of theory (e.g., comprehensiveness, parsimony, etc.). Furthermore, this paper discusses current controversies regarding these issues, ramifications of differing theoretical approaches, and their potential impact on the field. Based on this analysis, it is determined that general approaches (e.g., reasoned action/planned behavior, investment model) may be better for understanding this complex and multifaceted decision. Suggestions for future theoretical and intervention research are discussed.

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