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Women's Use of Physical and Nonphysical Self-Defense Strategies During Incidents of Partner Violence

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 13 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2007 Pages: 28-45
Date Published
January 2007
18 pages

Incidents of partner violence were examined in order to analyze women's use of violence and identify strategies used by women to protect themselves from their partner's attacks.


The study found that women developed and used a variety of strategies to protect themselves from partner violence. Most women preferred nonviolent protective strategies. These included locking themselves in a room, threatening to call the police, and trying to reason with the partner in resolving their differences without violence. Women typically used physical violence to protect themselves only after the nonviolent strategies failed to deter the partner. If the nonviolent strategies did not work and protective violence was not an option, then the last option was compliance with the partner's demands. Women, however, rarely had the opportunity to select an optimal nonviolent self-defense strategy against partner violence, since they could not predict when and how the partner would become violent. The study involved 2 samples of women (n=447). One sample was in treatment for substance use disorders in a Midwestern State (n=225), and the second sample was receiving services for domestic violence from 7 programs in the same State (n=222). The women were asked a series of questions about specific instances of violence with their partners and how the women acted and reacted in order to protect themselves from injury. Coders examined the women's responses with a view toward categorizing the types of self-protective strategies used by the women under various circumstances. 3 notes and 30 references

Date Published: January 1, 2007