Partner Abuse Worldwide

Studies conducted in 85 countries around the world (1) have compared male and female perpetration rates for intimate partner abuse. The best-known project is the International Dating Violence Study, which examined patterns of intimate partner violence among university students in 32 countries (2).

These research studies have been summarized by the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge (PASK) project (3). These studies provide 198 direct comparisons of male vs. female-perpetrated abuse, concluding that, “rates were higher for female perpetration/male victimization, or the same, in 118 comparisons, or 60%.”

These are the break-downs by type of abuse:

  • Physical partner violence – 117 comparisons: “Rates of physical PV were higher for female perpetration/male victimization, compared to male perpetration/female victimization, or were the same, in 73 of those comparisons, or 62%.”
  • Psychological abuse – 54 comparisons: “Higher rates found for female perpetration/male victimization [were found] in 36 comparisons (67%)”
  • Sexual violence – 19 comparisons: “Rates were found to be higher for female perpetration/male victimization in 7 comparisons (37%).”

These studies show that rates of female perpetration are very similar to male perpetration rates. The authors conclude, “Results of this review suggest that partner abuse can no longer be conceived as merely a gender problem, but also (and perhaps primarily) as a human and relational problem, and should be framed as such by everyone involved.”

These conclusions mirror findings in the United States, where research shows men and women initiate most forms of abuse at equal rates, for similar reasons, and rarely in self-defense.


1. Listing of Countries:

  • Africa – 20 countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Asia – 15 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, East Timor, India, Japan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
  • Europe – 23 countries: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
  • Latin America and the Caribbean – 19 countries: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Curacao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela
  • Middle East – 8 countries: Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey

2.  Straus MA. Dominance and Symmetry in Partner Violence by Male and Female University Students in 32 Nations. Children and Youth Services Review. Vol. 30, 2008.

3. Esquivel-Santoveña EE, Lambert T, Hamel J. Partner Abuse Worldwide. Partner Abuse Vol. 4, No. 1, 2013.