Discuss similarities and differences in partner violence by males and females. Consider prevalence, reasons, type, consequences and developmental course.

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Introduction

It is a natural human desire to seek the acceptance and love of other individuals. At the early stages of life it is the relationship with our parents or caregivers that matters the most, whereas as we step into adolescence, we begin to seek for intimate relationships with the opposite sex. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, love and belonging come right after the basic physiological and safety needs are fulfilled (Maslow, 1943). Love and being loved is an essential part of life for every individual. Therefore, in order to be happy, it is important to be able to form a successful and close relationship with an intimate partner. Although, it is natural that problems and conflicts may sometimes arise in such relationships, it seems that a large number of people choose aggression and violence as the way to deal with it. Data from a survey carried out in the US shows that nearly 3 out of 10 women and 1 out of 10 men have reported having experienced some sort of abuse or violence in their relationships (Black et al., 2011). This type of aggression, which occurs between two people in a close relationship, is defined by the term of intimate partner violence (IPV). IPV can involve both current and former dating partners and spouses. Usually this type of violence can occur as psychological, physical or sexual. Psychological aggression is probably the most common type of inter-partner violence. It can take the form of threatening a partner or his or her possessions or loved ones, harming a partner’s sense of self-worth. Examples are swearing, calling names, intimidation, not letting a partner see friends and family, and even stalking. In most cases IPV starts with psychological abuse and the can progress further to physical or sexual assault. Physical violence involves attempting to physically hurt one’s partner by pushing, slapping, hitting, kicking, choking or threatening with some sort of weapon. Sexual aggression is considered to be the type of behaviour that enforces any kind of sexual activity on the partner when he or she does not consent. It can involve acts such as kissing, petting or intercourse. According to another national survey in the US, as many as 9.5% of students have been physically hurt on purpose by their partner (Jouriles et al., 2006). Even though the numbers of partner violence seem rather high, they still underestimate the scale of the problem. Unfortunately, many victims do not report having been abused by their partners to the police or even friends and family. They often think that others will not believe them or that the police cannot help in cases like that. Moreover, the media usually tends to portrait a rather unambiguous picture of IPV. It is a common belief that females are significantly more victimized by domestic violence and males are more likely to be the main initiators of aggression against their intimate partners. Such stereotyping causes most males that have ever experienced aggression from their female partners not to report it or tell anyone about it. Hence the figures of dating violence in the media become quite distorted. However, if we take a look at the research that has examined partner violence by males and females, it seems that females are just as (or even more) likely to initiate aggression in close relationships. Different reasons and consequences of such aggression are discussed.

Prevalence of...