Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Alfred Allan

Second Advisor

Ricks Allan

Abstract

Intimate partner violence, a form of domestic violence, is a social problem and as a result governments are focused on implementing policies that reduce the prevalence of intimate partner violence. The common perception, established by feminist theorising and research, is that males are more likely than females to perpetrate intimate partner violence. However, this notion has in recent years been challenged by researchers whose findings suggest that males and females are equally likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence. This contention in the literature creates problems for policy makers who are attempting to reduce, if not eradicate, the occurrence of intimate partner violence. In this review I explored the possible explanations for these contradictory findings and found that researchers are not clear about their definitions of intimate partner violence and the types of violence that they examine. Therefore, contradictions in the literature could be a result of inconsistencies in definitions and types of violence used in intimate partner violence research. It also became evident through this review that in order to increase understanding of intimate partner violence a new theoretical model is needed. Researchers need to examine the impact that factors such as perpetrator gender difference in types of intimate partner violence, context of intimate partner violence and victims fear levels have on policy development. Future research could begin by first examining the impact that public opinion has on policy development and then examining public opinions of intimate partner violence. The idea of jury gender bias in cases of intimate partner violence was investigated through an examination of public perceptions of intimate partner violence. An experimental design was used to investigate whether or not the gender of the perpetrator and/or the participant, influenced the general public's construction of the behaviour, and their perception of violence and fear levels. It was found that stalking, physical, threats to physical, psychological, and sexual assaults are all considered to be types of intimate partner violence. Additionally, public perceptions about perpetrator gender differences in intimate partner violence are based on perceived outcomes of the violence rather than on whether the violence is defined as a type of violence. Therefore, it is possible that juries may be more likely to convict a male than a female perpetrator of intimate partner violence as male perpetrated intimate partner violence is perceived to cause more damage to the victim. Also female jury members are more likely than male jury members to convict a perpetrator of intimate partner violence as females perceive intimate partner violence to cause more damage than males. From these findings it is recommended that juries contain an equal representation of both males and females and that public awareness is raised to the possibility of female perpetrated intimate partner violence, so that male and female perpetrators may receive equal treatment in court.

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