Blaming Victims: The Effects of Sexual Orientation, Provocation, and Gender on Perceptions of Domestic Violence

Gillian Fiske, The College of Wooster


Domestic violence affects individuals across all races, socio-economic statuses, and sexual orientations. A lack of knowledge exists surrounding domestic violence within homosexual couples, and further research is necessary in order to understand this problem. Furthermore, factors leading up to and following scenarios of abuse may lead others to blame victims. The attribution and just-world theories attempt to explain why this occurs. The current study examined the effects of belief in a just world, victim provocation, sexual orientation, and gender differences on observer perceptions of the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. Participants (N = 252) completed an online survey including the belief in a just world scale and one of six different written domestic abuse vignettes describing three different sexual-oriented relationships compared with two different types of provocation. Perceptions of victim and perpetrator responsibility, blame, and sympathy, as well as a suggested legal punishment were examined. Analyses of variance revealed a relationship between provocation, relationship type, and victim blame, among other findings. Implications within the judicial system and for support systems made available to victims were discussed, along with directions for future research.