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Aggress Violent Behav. 2010 May;15(3):239-251.

"Why did it happen?" A review and conceptual framework for research on perpetrators' and victims' explanations for intimate partner violence.

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PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada & Research Associate, Social and Community Prevention Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, London, Ontario, Canada.


Although there is an extensive research literature on individual and cultural risk factors for intimate partner violence (IPV), much less is known about the factors that victims and perpetrators of IPV perceive as playing a role in violent events. In part, lack of systematic research on perceived reasons for violence is due to the lack of a clear conceptual model and comprehensive measures of perceived reasons why partner violence occurs. In this paper, we provide a conceptual model for domains of factors influencing IPV and use this model to frame our review of existing research on victims' and perpetrators' explanations for IPV. We discuss differences in explanations for IPV in terms of gender and whether explanations refer to the respondents' own or their partners' use of violence. Our review findings suggest a need for more standardization of measurement and larger representative samples in order to identify more systematically reasons that are perceived by victims and perpetrators to be most the important contributors to IPV. Further research on perceived reasons for IPV also needs to address gender differences as well as differences related to self-partner attributions.

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