Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Gender and Sexuality in Blame Attributions for Intimate Partner Violence

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology

First Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Second Advisor

Elise Lake


In this project I explore how gender and sexuality impact how respondents blame perpetrators and victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). Victims of same sex intimate partner violence (SSIPV) have different experiences with IPV than do heterosexual victims, both in articulating their experiences and in seeking legal recourse or professional aid. Blame is at the core of the biases that result in differential treatment, and I discuss belief in a just world (BJW) and groupness perceptions in blame attributions, blame in relation to gender, sexuality, and IPV. I elaborate on the results of blame in practical terms. I used an online survey in a quasi-experimental factorial design to test four broad hypotheses on target and respondent gender and sexuality using ANOVAs and UNIANOVAs. The hypotheses are as follows: (H1) Respondents will blame same sex victims more than heterosexual victims, (H2) Respondents will blame heterosexual perpetrators more than same sex perpetrators, (H3) Male respondents will blame victims more than female respondents will, and (H4) Female respondents will blame perpetrators more than male respondents will. I test sub-hypotheses for each as well. The results indicate sexuality alone is not a characteristic for in- or out-groupness, but respondent gender has a significant main effect. I discuss how homonormativity and its symbolic violence might explain my nonsignificant results. I also discuss the gendered expectations surrounding violence and performance that create a culture that legitimates victimizing, the importance of intersectionality, and directions for future research.

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