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What is ‘intimate terrorism’ and who commits it?

If you have stumbled across the phrase “intimate terrorist” you may be curious about what it means. Similarly, if you have a controlling and physically aggressive romantic partner, you may be wondering how to label this kind of behavior. You may find the answers to these questions in a study recently presented at an intimate partner violence symposium at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Forensic Psychology.

Although the term “intimate terrorism” was coined more than a decade ago, this recent study explores the phenomenon in depth. It also suggests that women are more likely to engage in this form of behavior than men are. It is unclear how often this form of domestic abuse leads to divorce, but it is almost certainly a contributing factor to many.

Intimate terrorism can be a form of domestic violence. It is often characterized by physical aggression, threats and intimidation. However, the legal definition of domestic violence is highly specific. Therefore, intimate terrorism can also be used to label behaviors which may not qualify as domestic violence under the law but that are aggressive and arguably abusive.

Given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly one-third of American women and “only” one-tenth of American men experience stalking, rape or physical violence by a romantic partner sometime during their lifespan, it is surprising that the new study links women to a greater rate of intimate terrorism. However, the study does serve as a good reminder that domestic abuse and domestic violence do not only plague the lives of women.

Source: Medical Daily, “Domestic Violence Against Men: Women More Likely To Be ‘Intimate Terrorists’ With Controlling Behavior In Relationships,” Lizette Borreli, Jun 30, 2014

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