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Intimate Partner Violence: An Overview of the Existing Theories, Conceptual Frameworks, and Definitions

Burelomova, A. & Gulina, M. (2018). Intimate Partner Violence: An Overview of the Existing Theories, Conceptual Frameworks, and Definitions. Psychology in Russia: State of the Art, 11(3), pp. 128-144. doi: 10.11621/pir.2018.0309


Background: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence, spousal abuse, and relationship violence, among other names, is becoming a widely recognized social and public health problem. Theory and practice suggest it is vital that the issue be addressed comprehensively in both the healthcare and socio-legal contexts. The theoretical perspectives underlying inquiries into the nature and etiology of the IPV phenomenon are of fundamental importance in promoting our understanding of how to prevent, reduce, or eliminate the problem. In order to integrate various aspects of knowledge about the phenomenon, it is important to consider and evaluate the approaches to IPV currently prevalent in the field.

Objectives: The present article aims to provide a critical overview of the existing theories, methodological frameworks, typologies, and definitions of Intimate Partner Violence.

Design: The present paper reviews the international literature on the conceptual frameworks and definitions of IPV. First, it draws on the conceptual frameworks of violence; it then reviews relevant theories and definitions of IPV considered from sociocultural, individual, and integrative perspectives. The disparities, limitations, and explanatory powers of these theories, as well as their clinical and research applications, are discussed in an attempt to bring more clarity into the current state of understanding in the field.

Results and Conclusions: Our review suggests that there is no universally accepted definition of IPV, nor a conceptual framework that would encompass the complexity of the phenomenon. Some of the theoretical frameworks for studying IPV appear to provide potential advantages over others, but their empirical viability has yet to be determined. We argue that, due to the complex multifaceted nature of IPV, a narrow theoretical stance might exclude a variety of exploratory factors and limit understanding of the phenomenon.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV); theory of IPV; domestic violence; spouse abuse, interpersonal violence; violence against women (VAW)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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