New Column: Researcher Says Women’s Initiation of Domestic Violence Predicts Risk to Women

My recent column Researcher Says Women’s Initiation of Domestic Violence Predicts Risk to Women (Huffington Post, 7/6/09) discusses some important new research on violence in families.

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In the column, I wrote:

How can we prevent Intimate Partner Violence and injury to women? IPV researcher Deborah Capaldi, Ph.D., a social scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center, finds that the best way for women to be safe is to not initiate violence against their male partners. According to Dr. Capaldi, “The question of initiation of violence is a crucial one… much IPV is mutual, and initiations — even that seem minor — may lead to escalation.”

Dr. Capaldi recently presented her work at “From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention,” an IPV conference in Los Angeles June 26-28. While studies have consistently found that women initiate as much violence against their male partners as vice versa, two-thirds of domestic violence injuries are suffered by women.

Dr. Capaldi’s research examined the different relationship violence scenarios — violence by him only, violence by her only, violence by both with him initiating, and violence by both with her initiating. Of these, the most likely to result in future injury to women is when she initiates violence against him and he responds, although both mutually aggressive groups were close in danger levels.

Dr. Capaldi notes that in a study of women who were in a battered women’s shelter, “67% of the women reported severe violence toward their partner in the past year.” Others in the domestic violence field, including Erin Pizzey, founder of the first battered women’s shelter in England in the early 1970s, have had similar findings.

According to Dr. Capaldi, “Overall, young couples with unidirectional violence report fewer acts and forms of violence than bidirectional couples.”

Read the full column here.

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