Intimate Partner Violence


Intimate partner violence refers to the intentional use of aggressive behaviors that are enacted with the immediate goal of causing physical pain to an intimate partner. If the pain is caused accidentally (e.g., by inadvertently shutting a door on the partner's fingers), it does not qualify as intimate partner violence. This entry focuses specifically on physical violence in romantic relationships; it does not address psychological aggression.

Virtually all intimate partner violence is instrumental, in that the partner's pain is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Regardless of whether violence is motivated by the desire to control the partner's behavior in the argument at hand, to gain justice or retribution, or to defend one's self-image, it typically is not random or ...

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