Typological approaches


  • Boxall, Haley, et al, ‘Domestic Violence Typologies: What Value to Practice?’ 494 Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice 1.
    Over the last few decades, understandings of the nature and causes of domestic violence have increased in sophistication. This has been influenced by, and led to, an influx of domestic violence typologies that have attempted to identify differences between groups of offenders and victims based on factors ranging from physiological reactions to specific stimuli through to historical experiences of violence and abuse. While this research has been of undeniable conceptual and theoretical value, its applicability to the day-to-day work of domestic violence practitioners is less clear. This study represents one of the first attempts to speak directly to professionals about how domestic violence typologies inform their everyday decision-making and case practice.
  • Wangmann, Jane, ‘Different Types Of Intimate Partner Violence: An Exploration Of The Literature’ (Issue Paper 22, Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearing House, 2011).

    Key points:

    • The last 15 years has seen a growing body of research emphasising that not all intimate partner violence (IPV) is the same. There are key differences in terms of the presence of control, gender perpetration, severity and impact.
    • Work on differentiation is diverse. It includes research exploring different types of IPV, as well as different types of male and female perpetrators of IPV.There is great interest in the potential of differentiation to assist in more appropriately targeted interventions for victims, perpetrators and any children of the relationship. In particular, in the area of family law in Australia, along with Canada and the United States, there has been some interest expressed in the potential for differentiation to provide for more nuanced responses that take account of the type of violence or perpetrator when making determinations about ongoing parenting arrangements.
    • A range of important concerns and criticisms have been raised about the methodology of the various typologies, as well as concerns about their translation into practice. They suggest that there is still much more work to be done on the articulation of typologies before a useful tool can be developed to assist delineation in practice.


  • Johnson, Michael P, and Kathleen J Ferraro, ‘Research on Domestic Violence in the 1990s: Making Distinctions’ (2000) 62 (4) Journal of Marriage and the Family 948.

    This US review of the family literature on domestic violence suggests to the authors two broad themes of the 1990s. The first, in their view, 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 question the tendency to generalise from context to another. Second, the authors suggest that issues of control—although most visible in 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. This article theorises four major patterns of partner violence:

    • Common couple violence – not connected to a general pattern of control, not as likely to escalate over time or to involve severe violence, more likely to be mutual.
    • Intimate terrorism- one tactic in a pattern of control, likely to escalate over time more likely to involve severe violence and less likely to be mutual.
    • Violent resistance-perpetrated almost entirely by women, similar to understandings of self-defence.
    • Mutual violent control- both husband and wife are controlling and violent – could be viewed as two intimate terrorists battling for control. Relatively rare.
    In addition, the review covers literature on coping with violence, the effects on victims and their children, and the social effects of partner violence.
  • Kelly, Joan, and Michael Johnson, ‘Differentiation Among Types of Intimate Partner Violence: Research Update and Implications for Interventions’ (2008) 46 (3) Family Court Review 476.

    In this article Kelly and Johnson further develop and discuss four patterns of domestic violence which they call: Coercive Controlling Violence, Violent Resistance, Situational Couple Violence, and Separation-Instigated Violence.

    • Coercive controlling violence- identified by the pattern of coercive and controlling behaviours embedded within it.
    • Violent resistance- self-protective violence.
    • Situational couple violence- most common type of physical aggression. One or both partners appear to have poor ability to manage their conflicts and/or poor control of anger. Violence tends to be less serious and fear does not tend to be present.
    • Separation-instigated violence- Separation-Instigated Violence is more likely to be perpetrated by the partner who is being left and is shocked by this. Can be severe.
  • Pence, Ellen and Shamita Das Dasgupta, Re-Examining ‘Battering’: Are All Acts of Violence Against Intimate Partners the Same? (Praxis International, 2006).

    This US study conducted interviews over a 15-year period with men and women who were arrested for domestic violence and involved in court proceedings. The authors identified 5 categories of domestic violence, which are not mutually exclusive:

    • Battering: the use of intimidation, coercion and violence in order to control another person or group (pp 5-9). The vast majority (95%) of men in the study were assessed to be batterers (p 15).
    • Resistive/reactive violence: the use of violence to retaliate and resist domination, often in resistance to ongoing battering (pp 9-11).
    • Situational violence: the use of violence to express anger, disapproval or to reach an objective. Battering is often misdiagnosed as situational violence because police and practitioners often intervene in a specific incident of abuse and do not investigate whether there is a pattern. Victims themselves may not recognise a pattern (pp 11-12).
    • Pathological violence: the use of violence by individuals that suffer from mental illness or physical disorders, or abuse alcohol and drugs. It is often difficult to determine when the pathology causes the violence (pp 12-13). Four percent of men in the study committed domestic violence exclusively due to pathological reasons (p 15).
    • Anti-social violence: the use of verbal or physical abuse in social settings. This violence may stem from antecedents such as childhood abuse and a lack of maturity (pp 13-14).