skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 201431 Find in a Library
Title: Definitional Issues (From Sourcebook on Violence Against Women, P 23-34, 2001, Claire M. Renzetti, Jeffrey L. Edleson, and Raquel K. Bergen, eds. -- See NCJ-201429)
Author(s): Walter S. DeKeseredy; Martin D. Schwartz
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter illustrates the dualistic nature of research on violence against women by examining the debate regarding how researchers should define such concepts as abuse, violence, sexual assault, and rape.
Abstract: The definitions used for these concepts will determine what behaviors and behavioral consequences are included in research that purports to focus on violence against women; thus, how one defines violence against women is one of the most important research decisions that a methodologist will make. One of the key issues in definitions of the components of violence against women pertains to broad versus narrow definitions of such violence. Typically, research focuses on narrow definitions of violence that encompass physical abuse, sexual abuse, or both. Few researchers will include a broader definition of violence that includes psychological, verbal, or economic abuse. Those researchers who favor broad definitions of violence argue that psychological or emotional abuse can be even more painful and damaging to one's sense of well-being than physical and sexual violence. Although there is a trend toward using broad definitions of violence against women, there is still significant variance in the incidence and prevalence rates of violence against women across studies, even when they use similar measures. This is due to sampling differences, different data-collection techniques, and other methodological factors. A significant issue in methodology is whether the questions asked of women reveal the information that is sought. Perhaps the most important need in newer surveys is for measures of context, meaning, and motive in incidents and patterns of violence. Another problem in surveys is how respondents view marital violence in relation to the content of criminal law. Since many women do not view how they are treated by their husbands as being criminal, they will not acknowledge criminal victimization in a family context when queried about victimization in crime surveys. In an effort to address the many problems of definition and perception in surveys, multiple measures of violence should be used. Various wordings of questions that probe respondents' experiences and perceptions of various types of violence should be used. Further, surveys that adequately address the complexities of violence against women in a variety of contexts and social settings must begin with a qualitative component. This might include indepth interviews with women and men, researchers, friends, family members, criminal justice officials, and shelter workers. Such information will sensitize research teams to the importance of using several supplementary open-ended and closed-ended questions that reflect women's subjective experiences. 56 references
Main Term(s): Female victims
Index Term(s): Definitions; Gender issues; Research design; Research methods; Victims of violent crime; Violence
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.