Violence between Intimate Partners: Patterns, Causes, and Effects

Article excerpt

Violence Between Intimate Partners: Patterns, Causes, and Effects. Albert P. Cardarelli (Ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. 1997. 230 pp. ISBN 0-02-319213-5. $41.75 cloth.

This edited volume of readings on violence between intimate partners sets a new standard for texts about family violence. Cardarelli accomplishes three major goals in the selection of articles and the organization of the text: (a) Intimate violence is cast as a public, as well as a criminal issue; (b) overlooked areas in domestic violence are included (i.e., courtship violence, same-sex couple violence); and (c) the dynamics, experiences, and consequences of violence for perpetrators, victims, and others are examined.

In the introduction, Cardarelli lays the groundwork for the book by presenting a model of intimacy, power, and violence in relationships. He suggests, as others have before him, that conflict resolution is key to understanding violence and abuse. However, he develops this further with the concept of an intimacy continuum (from dating to divorce) and the inclusion of gay and lesbian relationships. The issue of family as private, familiar to all family scholars, is treated as a complex issue in researching and theorizing family violence, especially in regard to societal ambivalence and conflicting ideologies. Further, the response of the criminal and civil justice system is seen as both reflecting and shaping societal reactions to violence between intimate partners.

In the first section of the text, "Patterns, Causes, and Conceptualizations of Intimate Violence," the case for an integrated theoretical model is made and supported. The opening article by Miller and Wellford provides an overview of the measurement issues and major explanatory models used in the study of intimate violence. Miller and Wellford call for an integrated theoretical model, one that focuses on the characteristics and experiences of individuals, the social dimensions of their lives, and the cultural conditions in which they live. They suggest that an integrated or multilevel theory directs attention to multifaceted responses to the problem.

The next three articles present the intimacy continuum from courtship and marriage to samesex relationships. These articles capture the process of establishing and maintaining an intimate relationship. And they call into question societal ambivalence about relationship and family privacy, appropriate role behavior based on age and gender, and issues of power and dependency in relationships. For example, Makepeace addresses the problems facing teens in a highly sexualized context where their access to resources, like contraception, is severely limited. Browne translates the intimacy continuum to reflect a process that ranges from intrusion to homicide, detailing warning signs of potentially lethal relationships. Renzetti provides a way to understand gay and lesbian violence in the larger context of a homophobic society. …