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