Research on Domestic Violence in the 1990s: Making Distinctions



This review of the family literature on domestic violence suggests that two broad themes of the 1990s provide the most promising directions for the future. The first is the importance of distinctions among types or contexts of violence. Some distinctions are central to the theoretical and practical understanding of the nature of partner violence, others provide important contexts for developing more sensitive and comprehensive theories, and others may simply force us to question our tendency to generalize carelessly from one context to another. Second, issues of control, although most visible in the feminist literature that focuses on men using violence to control “their” women, also arise in other contexts, calling for more general analyses of the interplay of violence, power, and control in relationships. In addition to these two general themes, our review covers literature on coping with violence, the effects on victims and their children, and the social effects of partner violence.

She wandered the streets, looking in shop windows. Nobody knew her here. Nobody knew what he did when the door was closed. Nobody knew.

(Brant, 1996, pp. 281)