Risk factors for female perpetrators of intimate partner violence within criminal justice settings: A systematic review

Jennifer Louise Mackay, Erica Bowen, Kate Walker, Lorna O'Doherty

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    There is a lack of understanding of the risk factors for female-perpetrated intimate partner violence (IPV) relative to men's IPV behaviours. Males can access offence-specific interventions in prison and on probation. However,
    depending on national criminal justice policies, female IPV perpetrators access general offending behaviour programmes only or offence-specific programmes that have been designed with male perpetrators in mind. The extent to which men's and women's treatment needs are similar or different is unclear. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesise what is known about the risk factors for IPV perpetration by women located within criminal justice settings to inform appropriate interventions for this group of offenders. Thirty-one studies met
    inclusion criteria and no factors meeting our definition of risk factor were identified. However, there were associations between IPV perpetration and experience of child abuse, substance use, borderline personality traits, attachment issues and experiencing trauma. It remains unclear what factors need to be targeted in interventions for female IPV perpetrators, although associations have pointed to possible predisposing factors. In order to improve the evidence base for IPV interventions, researchers need to clearly define the term ‘risk factor’, extending beyond reporting on prevalence only, and to increase understanding of the pathways to IPV perpetration among women.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128-146
    Number of pages18
    JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
    Early online date30 Jun 2018
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


    • Domestic violence
    • Systematic review
    • Female perpetrators
    • Risk factors
    • Intimate partner violence


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