The motivation for this question is that, in the recent libel trial between Amber Heard and Johnny Depp, the couple's psychologist referred to their relationship dynamic as "mutually abusive."

However a number of people have suggested that mutual abuse is not a meaningful concept. Notably, Ruth Glenn of the NCADV and Wagatwe Wanjuki have suggested that abuse is inherently asymmetric or one-sided.
Of course, the aforementioned individuals are activists, but some psychologists have also expressed similar ideas, such as Betsy Usher.

On the other hand, other experts do seem to see mutual abuse as a meaningful concept, such as psychologist Janie Lacy in the first article linked previously. There also appears to be some research on mutual violence in intimate relationships.

So in short, what is the psychological consensus (or lack thereof) around the notion of mutual abuse? Is it a well-defined or meaningful concept in relationship psychology? Is mutual intimate partner violence meaningful, and in what aspects would they differ?

  • $\begingroup$ Could you define it? I don't understand it, I mean if two persons both get angry at eachother and start throwing things is that mutual abuse? $\endgroup$
    – Emil
    Commented May 29, 2022 at 10:00


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