The Psychology of Trauma

Domestic Violence

How has the study of domestic violence changed from the early feminist approach?

More recent work has taken a broader approach to the problem of domestic violence than was taken by the initial feminist writers. There is greater emphasis on empirical research instead of open-ended interviews and clinical histories. There is also interest in same-sex violence, the impact of domestic violence on children, the psychological features of anyone engaging in intimate partner violence, and the role of female-initiated violence. Importantly, empirical research has shown that not all of domestic violence can be explained by patriarchal oppression of women. Although classic instances of wife battering certainly do occur, women themselves are not always helpless victims of an abusive partner. Sometimes women are violent themselves and/or display some of the psychologically abusive tactics of a classic batterer. Additionally, violence between same-sex couples cannot easily be explained by societal oppression of women. Nonetheless, although later research shows a more complex picture than the earlier feminists described, the nature and frequency of domestic violence is undeniably influenced by the cultural, economic, and legal position of women in society.


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