Toxic Masculinity and Justification of Violence

Understanding the factors that lead to the perpetration of violence in relationships is just as important as understanding why some women are more affected than others. Only by looking at and understanding how toxic masculinity plays into IPV perpetration can it be effectively combated. 

When young boys grow up in homes where they are exposed to violence and abuse, they are at an increased risk of becoming perpetrators of intimate partner violence in the future [1]. While growing up in this environment is no fault of their own, it is still an important factor to look at. Those who grow up in violent households often tend to normalize violence in the future.


As adults, men who have difficulty clarifying their emotions and are unable to control their behavior when in distress report higher rates of physical assault towards female partners [2]. Put more simply, men who struggle to label their emotions and who showcase impulsive behaviors while in distress show signs of increased violence in relationships. This is explained in Extant theory, which states that men who perceive themselves as falling short of masculine standards are more vulnerable to emotion-regulation difficulties because of the encouragement by larger society to avoid emotion [3]. The continued fight against toxic masculinity and the idea of what it means to be a 'man' in today's society is still struggling to gain ground. When society keeps normalizing the idea that men who don't meet certain standards of masculinity aren't good enough, this can often lead to anger and violence. What's even worse is that some view these displays of violence as acceptable masculine behaviors.


Financial abuse is also a prominent factor in male IPV perpetration. It is common for men who initiate abusive behavior to limit and sabotage the ability of their partner to maintain work [4]. This is often done to keep their partner dependant on them so that they cannot leave. Women who report this also indicate that their physical abuse worsened as a result of their employment. The outdated idea that men are supposed to be the main earners in the house creates a feeling of inadequacy in some men who's partner earns more than them.  This then leads to financial abuse and physical abuse against their partner.

Effects of Toxic Masculinity


1. Cervantes, Marisa V., and Jennifer Sherman. "Falling for the Ones That Were Abusive: Cycles of Violence in Low-Income Women’s Intimate Relationships." Journal of Interpersonal Violence (2019): 5.

2. Berke, Danielle S., Dennis E. Reidy, Brittany Gentile, and Amos Zeichner. "Masculine discrepancy stress, emotion-regulation difficulties, and intimate partner violence." Journal of interpersonal violence 34, no. 6 (2019): 1172.

3. Berke, Danielle, Masculine Discrepancy, 1174

4. Hetling, Andrea, Amanda Mathisen Stylianou, and Judy L. Postmus. "Measuring financial strain in the lives of survivors of intimate partner violence." Journal of Interpersonal Violence 30, no. 6 (2015): 1052


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