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Violence is gendered

To understand the discussion about violence and gender it is necessary to first understand what the word gender means. Gender does not mean “women,” “men,” or “sex.” Here are two articles that explain what the word gender means and why it is relevant to health research.

Fishman, J. R., Wick, J. G., & Koenig, B. A. (1999). The use of “sex” and “gender” to define and characterize meaningful differences between men and women. Agenda for Research on Women’s Health for the 21st Century, 2, 15–20.

Phillips, S. P. (2005). Defining and measuring gender: A social determinant of health whose time has come. International Journal for Equity in Health, 4(11), 1–4.



Sex, gender, and sexuality are different things. Abuse in same-sex relationships is gendered too. The prevalence, dynamics, and impact differ significantly by sex in gay & lesbian relationships. There has been little quality research on abuse in couples where one or both people is transgender, and the research on bisexual people's experiences of abuse often makes it difficult to interpret. 

Here are some high-quality explanations of gender and abuse in gay & lesbian couples. 


Whiting, N. (2007). A contradiction in terms?: A gendered analysis & same sex domestic abuse. Scottish Women’s Aid. 

Barnes, R., & Donovan, C. (2018). Domestic violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender relationships. In N. Lombard (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Violence (pp. 67–81). New York : Routledge.

Here are some sources on sex and gender differences in violence against intimate partners.

Dragiewicz, M. (2011). Equality with a vengeance: Men’s rights groups, battered women, and antifeminist backlash. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Dragiewicz, M. and Lindgren, Y. (2009). The gendered nature of domestic violence: Statistical data for lawyers considering equal protection analysis. American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law. The first annual American Bar Association Domestic Violence Commission and Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law domestic violence dedicated section, 17(2), 229-268.

Dragiewicz, M. (2009). Why sex and gender matter in domestic violence research and advocacy. In E. Stark and E. Buzawa (Eds.) Violence against women in families and relationships: Making and breaking connections, Volume three: Criminal justice and the law (pp. 201-215). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Dragiewicz, M. & DeKeseredy, W.S. (2012). Claims about women’s use of non-fatal force in intimate relationships: A contextual review of the Canadian research. Violence Against Women, 18(9) 1008-1026.

DeKeseredy, W. and Dragiewicz, M. (2007). Understanding the complexities of feminist perspectives on woman abuse: A commentary on Donald G. Dutton’s Rethinking domestic violence. Violence Against Women, 13(8), 874-884.

Dragiewicz, M. (2013).  Family violence or woman abuse? Putting gender back into the Canadian research equation In R. Alaggia, and C. Vine, (Eds.) Cruel but not unusual: Violence in Canadian families, Vol. II (pp. 76-104). Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

DeKeseredy, W.S. & Dragiewicz, M. (2014). Woman abuse in Canada: Sociological reflections on the past, suggestions for the future. Violence Against Women, 20(2): 228-244.

DeKeseredy, W., & Schwartz, M. (1998). Measuring the extent of woman abuse in intimate heterosexual relationships: A critique of the conflict tactics scales.

Battered men? Battered facts. By Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. 1994.

The myth of the ‘Battered Husband Syndrome.’ By Jack Straton. 1994.

Are heterosexual men also victims of intimate partner abuse? By Joanne Belknap and Heather Melton. 2005.

Male violence and male privilege.By Dick Bathrick and Gus Kaufman, Jr. 2001.

The lie of entitlement. By Red Crowley. 2001.

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