Primary Sources: What Are Young Men Thinking When They Commit Partner Violence?

Photograph of a young man holding his hand in front of him to say stop.

Beliefs and Attributions of Partner Violence Perpetrators: The Physical and Psychological Violence of Adolescent Males, Violence and Victims, Vol. 26, No. 2, April 2011.

What it’s about:  The authors asked 132 college-age men about their beliefs about women, their partners and their relationships. Of those surveyed, more than 80 percent had committed psychological or physical violence in the past year.

Why read it: Knowing what makes some young men more likely to hurt their female partners can help youth workers prevent dating violence.

Biggest takeaways for youth workers: Young men who acted violently toward their partners were more likely than nonviolent young men to be hostile toward women, to say their partners had negative motivations, and to have unrealistic expectations about what a relationship "should be."

The researchers found that violent young men blamed their partners, reporting that their partners deserved to be punished for their actions. Many of these young men also rationalized their violence based on the belief that women are hostile and blameworthy. Interventions that challenge hurtful beliefs about women and unrealistic views of relationships may be especially effective in adolescence, as teenagers develop and revise their ideas about gender and relationships, the authors say. Youth workers may be able to prevent partner violence by working to change young men's biases before violence has started or escalated.

Additional References:

NCFY’s podcast, Youth Speak Out: Chicago Youth Say No to Dating Violence

The Exchange, Addressing the Complexities of Family and Relationship Violence

(Publications discussed here do not necessarily reflect the views of NCFY, FYSB or the Administration for Children and Families. Go to the NCFY literature database for abstracts of these and other publications.)

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