The Duluth Model: The theoretical basis for the feminist approach to domestic violence

The cornerstone of the feminist approach to domestic violence is known as the ‘Duluth Model’, which is often illustrated as follows:

The Duluth Model is “based in feminist theory positing that domestic violence is the result of patriarchal ideology in which men are encouraged and expected to control their partners”. (Source)

It is my position, and I am certainly not alone in this regard, that applying this theoretical framework to most (let alone all) incidents of domestic violence is highly misleading and inappropriate.

Further, if gender inequality is the most significant precursor in relation to domestic violence, then:

Why is the incidence of domestic violence greater in lesbian couple than in heterosexual couples?

How might one explain the already high and growing levels of female-perpetrated violence generally?

How might one explain the significant geographical variations in the incidence of domestic violence? The chart below, for example, looks at variations in the incidence of DV in the Australian state of New South Wales.

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Why does there exist a very considerable number of male victims of domestic violence?

How might one explain the relatively high levels of child abuse and neglect involving single mothers?

Why is the level of domestic violence so high in countries like Sweden that, even feminists would agree, have a higher than average level of gender equality?

These categories or situations of domestic violence are not the inconsequential anomalies that many propose them to be. On the contrary, they constitute very large and substantial pieces of the domestic violence jigsaw.

In an intimate partnership between two people of different genders, an unequal balance of power can be a factor contributing to DV. But what feminists refuse to concede is that the partner asserting most power need not be male, and often isn’t.

The Duluth Model and its chief proponents are discussed at length in this illuminating series of email exchanges (mirror here).

“… the Duluth model essentially views all female transgressions as being self-defensive in nature (even against children!) and can be attributed either to previous victimization by a male or to an allegedly oppressive “patriarchy” (Dutton and Corvo, 2007)”

I would urge you to take a moment now to read Jason Dale’s detailed and insightful commentary.

See also:

Setting the record straight on Duluth (6 February 2017)

Taking an in-depth look into domestic violence research – The Duluth Model (6 September 2015)

The Gender Paradigm In Domestic Violence: Research And Theory (2005) by Donald G. Dutton and Tonia L. Nicholls

 

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