Articles & Essays
The interpersonal perspective defines domestic violence on a continuum of "instrumental" to "expressive"

"Expressive violence is...an expression or function of a high level of emotional arousal. It typically occurrs in the context of gradually escalating conflict between" [partners]. "Instrumental violence is the deliberate use of violence as an instrument or tool for social influence"

The distinction between instrumental, i.e. power and control-driven battering and it's polar opposite is significant. The nature of expressive conflict precludes the "implication" that "…fixed 'victim' and 'perpetrator' roles" are necessary or sufficient components of domestic discord. Emperical indicators of reciprocal expressive violence include:
"... specific, measurable skill deficits in the areas of anger control, stress management, and communication. The violence typically occurred in the context of a dysfunctional relationship during periods of high stress"
(Neidig & Friedman, 1984)
"Yes, there probably is some hitting in almost every household at some time...perhaps half of all [partners] will physically fight at some point in the marriage." (Gelles & Straus, p. 35)

“Pro-feminist” scholarship recognizes the distinction between types of domestic violence: "Common couple violence" is not related to instrumental enforcement of male power and control, it occurs in the context of relational conflict:

“an intermittent response to the occasional conflicts of everyday life...not a more general need to be in charge of the relationship” (Johnson, 1995, p. 286)

1996 a review of studies finds:

1. physical aggression is a relatively frequent phenomenon, particularly in unhappy marriages
2. both sexes are likely to self-report being victims and perpetrators...
3. physical aggression in marriage appears to be a dyadic phenomenon
(Vivian & Langhinrichsen-Rohling)


A longitudinal study finds: one of the first lessons learned in the Dunedin study is that there are no tidy and distinct groups of victims or perpetrators...it is clear that in most cases of partner violence in this age group, [mid-twenties] the parties are involved in mutual violence. (Moffitt & Caspi)

Common couple violence is “by far” the predominant type of relational aggression
(O'Leary & Murphy, p. 30).

The Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) "The most commonly used measure of family violence" (Saunders, 1999, p. 264) has consistently found relative gender symmetry in rates of committing various abusive and violent behaviors. A CTS-based "Partner Conflict Survey " (Fontes) found:

"Not only did men experience the same rate of domestic violence as did women, but men reported the same rate of injury as did women."
(Gelles, Welsh, & Welsh)

Archers meta-analysis of CTS studies provides the definitive answer to questions regarding CTS reliability and validity.


“Pro-feminist” researchers acknowledge that the “vast majority of both women's and men's violence falls into the common couple category." (Swan & Snow)

Study of men and women in "batterers" program finds the vast majority of participant violence occurs in a common couple context. When allowed to define the characteristics of their own relationships, most participants described a dynamic consisting of intermittant cycles of frustration and punishment, as opposed to power and control (Dunning)

Excerpts from a study of domestic violence typologies:

"authors from both perspectives have recommended adopting a differentiated approach to the studying and treatment of aggression in relationships"
"The implications for the diagnosis and treatment of domestic violence perpetrators are that there is clear evidence to suggest that partner aggression is not a unitary phenomenon... Further, the present study’s findings suggest that the use of partner aggression may be a human problem rather than a male problem and so treatment plans should concentrate primarily on the nature of the physical aggression rather than the gender of the perpetrator and victim."
"The present dominance of the socio-political/pro-feminist approach to domestic violence intervention programs... may need to be addressed. The large drop-out and reassault rates for perpetrators in such programs may be due to treatment being tailored to the minority of perpetrators who fit that label of ‘patriarchal men’." (Grahm-Kevan & Archer, p 5,26,29)

The distinction between instrumental and expressive domestic violence is acknowleged by a co-creator of the Duluth model:

"If my partner had an affair after 25 years, I might slap my partner," Pence said. "That doesn't make me a batterer."
"now Pence says she's unhappy with how her theory has morphed. Too often, she says, all offenders are treated the same. That's not what she intended."
"Her program was designed to address violent predators and chronic batterers. Today's programs are too often one-size-fits-all, she says."

Investigation of womens' relationship aggression finds:

"Indeed, research has not found a consistent link between patriarchal ideology and wife assault within samples in western nations."
"women’s use of partner aggression cannot be understood by a single explanation. Therefore there is a need to understand women’s physical aggression...so that women’s aggressive behavior can be understood, which is crucially important to the women themselves..." (Grahm-Kevan & Archer, p 15, 16)