Reciprocal partner violence
Reciprocal partner violence, also known as bi-directional partner violence, involves intimate partner violence (IPV) in which each person in the relationship is both a perpetrator and victim of IPV. Research shows a high proportion of IPV is reciprocal.
One of the key indicators of whether a woman will be a victim of IPV is whether she is a perpetrator of DV/IPV. "Reciprocity was associated with more frequent violence among women". Women are more likely to be injured as a result of IPV so it follows one key way that women could avoid being a victim of IPV is to not be a perpetrator. This is not about provocation in the moment. Rather this a long term trend in which a man and a woman initiate IPV against each other.
The table below lists classifiations used in PASK as well as male-perpetrated and female-perpetrated IPV. These are listed as MFPV & FMPV respectively in the PASK Domestic Violence Facts and Statistics at a Glance.
|Partner violence (percentage)
|Among large population samples
|Among school and college samples
|Among respondents reporting IPV in legal or female-oriented clinical/treatment seeking samples not associated with the military
|Within military and male treatment samples
|Total Partner Violence (percentage)
|Reciprocal Partner Violence
|Non-Reciprocal Partner Violence
The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, commonly called the Dunedin Study is a longitudinal study being undertaken in Dunedin, New Zealand.
The Dunedin Study found high rates of reciprocal IPV among study participants. The document “Findings About Partner Violence From the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study” released by the US National Institute of Justice found:
When the data were analyzed, victimized women were 10 times more likely to be perpetrators than other women and male perpetrators also were 19 times more likely to be victims than other men."
The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health also found that about half of all IPV is reciprocal IPV. The study examined differences in injury rates between reciprocal and non-reciprocal IPV and found that injury rates are higher in reciprocal IPV than non-reciprocal IPV.
One of the key indicators of whether a woman will be a victim of IPV is whether she is a perpetrator of IPV. It follows then that one important way that a woman can avoid being a victim of IPV is to not be a perpetrator of IPV. Research by Capaldi has found that this holds true.
Governments, domestic violence organisations and the wider community completely ignore reciprocal IPV. By ignoring the prevalence of reciprocal IPV these groups are preventing effective interventions as they discount the need to intervene with violent women. This will contribute to the continuation of reciprocal IPV and actually make it more likely that the women involved will be injured. Ignoring women's violence contributes to violence against women.
Response from Feminists
Until recently feminists rejected RPV outright. With the wider community now recognising RPV feminists have shifted to attempting to excuse women's violence in relationships but their own research shows that women initiate partner violence. The Australian study Women who use force lists self-defence, retaliation, anger and stress as common reasons that women are violent in relationships.  The last three are not justifiable reasons to use violence in a relationship. Notably the study uses the word force rather than violence' when describing women's actions.