Partner violence: impact, processes, developments and policy in Belgium - PHASE II

  • Coene, Gily (Administrative Promotor)
  • Withaeckx, Sophie (Administrative Promotor)
  • Vanneste, Charlotte (Coördinator)
  • Rousseaux, Xavier (Co-Promotor)
  • GLOWACZ, Fabienne (Co-Promotor)

Project Details


General objectives and underlying research questions

The objective of the project is to study IPV from a dual approach: discussing the impact of the phenomenon and the complex processes from which it results and also considering it from the angle of the public policies developed in this matter. The aim is to link these two approaches in order to propose a better articulation between the media discourse, the scientific knowledge on IPV, and public policies.

An analysis of the impact first implies questioning the definition of the phenomenon, pointed out as problematical in the scientific literature. Is there evidence to define IPV in terms of gender domination relations, as feminist interpretations suggest? How can we derive meaning from this interpretation, especially in the light of research in psychology which has endeavoured to go beyond an analysis of profiles focusing on psychopathology towards one that looks into interactional dynamics decoded on the basis of notions of power, control and insecurity? And what about so-called situational factors? To what extent are non-traditional relations (such as same sex relations) adequately captured in definitions and policies on IPV? How can we understand IPV and critically assess policies from a perspective that considers the intersections between gender, class, ethnicity, citizenship, age and/or other relevant dimensions of inequality and exclusion? What are the issues at stake in these different interpretations in terms of defining a public policy and drafting a criminal policy? How do these visions correspond to the reality of situations referred to justice? And lastly, is there evidence that IPV is on the rise, or rather is it more a matter of changes in the way these behaviours and the insecurity they generate are perceived?

The multi-level governance approach suggested in the NAP constitutes a real challenge. But to date, there is little knowledge about the effectiveness of the proposed transversal practices and about their efficiency in terms of curbing IPV or giving adequate responses to the affected citizens. Data show that while the criminal justice system has increasingly been asked to deal with intimate partner violence, at the same time a quite relative success in criminal intervention has been observed in this area. Research points out that the zero tolerance policy promoted during the last decades seeks to deter and to send a symbolic message, but is not usually very effective in instrumental terms. How have public policies evolved in this matter? How have the roles of, and the interactions between “police”, “justice” and “welfare” been changed? Does the increasing recourse to legal action reflect a decline of welfare resources or rather a decreasing use of available services, and, in such case, what are the reasons? What forms of coordination can be observed and how to think about the specific function of each institution? What about public opinion and social representations in this area and how do they shape the practices of the various actors?
Effective start/end date1/04/1815/04/21


  • violence
  • Belgium
  • Intimate Partner Violence

Flemish discipline codes

  • Social archaeology