Intimate-Partner Violence

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Despite decades of research on intimate-partner violence (IPV), debates and unanswered questions abound in the literature, to which many disciplines—psychology, sociology, criminal justice, law, and public health—have contributed. One long-standing and particularly contentious debate regards gender symmetry, or whether women are as violent in intimate relationships as men. This essay begins with a historical overview of IPV research; it then summarizes recent work on gender and IPV and discusses how estimates of the prevalence and gender distribution of IPV vary depending on its definition and measurement. Reviewing the literature on the heterogeneity of IPV, this essay notes that better understanding of different IPV types may resolve some discrepancies in research. The essay also considers how gender norms may shape IPV and reviews research on experiences of sexual minorities and of those of different races, immigration statuses, and cultures. The final section identifies topics in need of further exploration over the next decade.