Prior to describing the methodology and findings of the study, a literature review focuses on previous pertinent research that considered the rates and severity of injury among men and women involved in bidirectional violence, the levels of fear experienced by men and women involved in violent relationships, anger and hostility in intimate relationships, and motivations for perpetrating partner violence. Participants in the current study were heterosexual men involved in a court-ordered domestic violence abatement program (n=119), heterosexual women involved in a court-ordered domestic violence abatement program (n=24), and heterosexual women seeking services from a shelter program for abused women (n=50). Data were obtained through a structured clinical interview that addressed demographic characteristics and a number of dimensions of participants' partner-violence history, including duration and frequency of partner violence; which partners initiated the first episode of violence in the relationships; the percentage of time respondents initiated violence; and the percentage of time respondents' partners initiated violence. Respondents also reported on the maximum level of violence of each partner. Respondents also reported on whether their partners ever required medical intervention because of the violence. Further, respondents were asked about their emotional and behavioral responses to their partners' use of violence in each of two conditions: when partners defend themselves from respondents' initiated assault, and when the partner initiates an assault upon the respondent.
Respondents also rated the intensity of feelings in the context of their partners initiating violence. A modified version of the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) was integrated into the clinical interview. The findings show that whereas men and women ordered by the court to attend a violence abatement program appeared similar in expressed violent acts, violence frequency, and injurious outcome, the women initiated significantly fewer violent episodes than did men; and they were less likely to start the overall pattern of violence in the relationship. The women in the court-ordered treatment program were less likely than were shelter women to call police, try to escape, or acquiesce to their partners' violence. The two groups of women reported more fear, anger, and insult, along with less amusement, when their partners were violent than did the men. The men in court-ordered treatment were significantly more likely than were women to laugh at partner-initiated violence and exhibit dominating and controlling behaviors.