Interactional Relationship Violence or
Classic Intimate Partner Violence -
Central Distinguishing Feature

Dr. King



by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.




Intimate partner violence is often confused with interactional relationship violence. And the “real” victims can get lost in the confusion.

What is the key distinction between interactional relationship violence and classic intimate partner violence?

When a victim of intimate partner violence is battered, what does she/he do?

a) Does she/he strike back?
b) Does she/he block, recoil and crouch in a ball?
c) Does she/he do nothing at all?

When couples entangled in interactional relationship violence are in the battering phase of the relationship cycle, you can expect that both of the parties will be wounded and both will have battered. Thus, the name interactional relationship violence.

But who then is the “real” victim in this dynamic? Or, is there a “real victim” here?

On the other hand, when couples of classic intimate partner violence are in the battering phase of their relationship cycle, one party is wounded and one party is clearly the aggressor inflicting the violence.

There is one “real” victim, and possibly one alleged victim, because the couples share a philosophy that the “real” victim is responsible for the altercation in the first place.

The obvious distinguishing characteristic is clearly the “real” victim’s response to being battered. If you choose number b), then you are correct. The individual’s reaction to attack is not aggression, rather it is fear and/or avoidance.

If you are in an emotionally volatile relationship that has bouts of physical altercations, then you will benefit by knowing the dynamics of intimate partner abuse and interactional relationship violence.

For more information about the dynamics of abusive relationships, read Domestic Abuse Dynamics: Identifying Abuse. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.

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©2009 Jeanne King, Ph.D. www.PreventAbusiveRelationships



Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.