Fitting into a New Model: Women’s Use of Physical Force

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Counseling and Human Services

First Advisor

Joy Whitman

Second Advisor

Ann Russo

Third Advisor

Kim Riordan Van Horn


The purpose of this study was to provide a contextual understanding of women's use of physical force against intimate partners and family members. While the use of violence in a relationship is labeled domestic violence, much research has shown that men's use of violence and women's use of violence is very different in severity, intent, and effects (Dobash, Dobash, Wilson, & Daly, 1992; Hamberger & Potente, 1994; Miller 2001). Research has also shown that women whom are arrested for domestic violence assaults are more frequently than not battered women themselves (DasGupta, 2002; Hamberger & Guse, 2002; Walker, 1984). The author found that all four of the women interviewed were survivors of domestic violence. The women described a variety of motivating thoughts and feelings which led to their use of physical force. The results of this study provide the context in which these four women used physical force and suggest that personal motivations for using physical force cannot be fully understood by others without addressing the context within which the actions occurred.


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