In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Violence Against Women

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Definitional Issues
  • Typologies of Violence against Women
  • Antifeminist Backlash
  • Theories of Violence against Women
  • Consequences of Violence against Women
  • Prevention and Intervention

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Criminology Violence Against Women
Walter S. DeKeseredy
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 March 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 March 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0012


Violence against women takes many shapes and forms, such as physical assaults on marital/cohabiting partners, separation/divorce sexual assault, stalking, date/acquaintance rape, and coercive control. These and other highly injurious behaviors that many women from diverse backgrounds experience behind closed doors and elsewhere constitute a worldwide public health problem. Hence, it is not surprising that there is a great deal of literature on this topic. That the field’s leading periodical, Violence Against Women: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, is able to publish thirteen issues a year is an important statement on the amount of time and effort that an interdisciplinary group of researchers is devoting to enhancing a social scientific understanding of the myriad ways in which women are hurt by intimate partners, acquaintances, and strangers in private and public places. Still, the literature is characterized by much intellectual and political diversity, and there is no agreed-upon unequivocal definition of violence against women. Moreover, debates are heated about how to prevent and control violence against women. For example, many feminists call for broader political, economic, and cultural changes, whereas others view violence against women as a trait of the individual and thus advocate for psychological treatment.

General Overviews

Several recently published books provide general overviews of the social scientific literature on violence against women. Leading experts in the field are likely to recommend Renzetti, et al. 2011 and some chapters in Barnett, et al. 2011 as starting points. Many entries in Renzetti and Edleson 2008 are useful for people seeking short overviews of key issues surrounding violence against women. DeKeseredy 2011 and Johnson and Dawson 2011 cover an international body of knowledge, but special attention is given to women’s violent experiences in Canada. Like these two Canadian general overviews, Meloy and Miller 2011 is a feminist offering and views violence in intimate relationships as being committed disproportionately by men. So does DeKeseredy and Schwartz 2013, with special attention devoted to the ways in which all-male peer groups perpetuate and legitimate woman abuse.

  • Barnett, Ola W., Cindy L. Miller-Perrin, and Robin D. Perrin. 2011. Family violence across the lifespan: An introduction. 3d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    A rich source of social scientific information on violence against women.

  • DeKeseredy, Walter S. 2011. Violence against women: Facts, myths, controversies. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press.

    Covers sociological work on violence against women in Canada and reviews contributions made by researchers, theorists, activists, and practitioners in other countries, especially those in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

  • DeKeseredy, Walter S., and Martin D. Schwartz. 2013. Male peer support and violence against women: The history and verification of a theory. Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press.

    Covers more than twenty-five years of theoretical and empirical work on the ways in which patriarchal male peer groups perpetuate and legitimate various types of woman abuse in intimate, heterosexual relationships.

  • Johnson, Holly, and Myrna Dawson. 2011. Violence against women in Canada: Research and policy perspectives. Don Mills, ON: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Examines theories, research, and policies with an emphasis on Canada.

  • Meloy, Michelle L., and Susan L. Miller. 2011. The victimization of women: Law, policies, and politics. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Provides a historical overview and critique of the research on male-to-female battering, sexual assault, and stalking. Myths about victimization are also debunked, and major policy issues are addressed.

  • Renzetti, Claire M., and Jeffrey L. Edleson, eds. 2008. Encyclopedia of interpersonal violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Includes many entries on violence against women.

  • Renzetti, Claire M., Jeffrey L. Edleson, and Raquel Kennedy Bergen. 2011. Sourcebook on violence against women. 2d ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    A collection of eighteen original chapters that examine the current state of empirical, theoretical, prevention, and direct intervention work on violence against women.

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