The Role of Food and Food Behaviors in Intimate Partner Violence

Rei Shimizu, Briana Barocas, Jessamin Cipollina, Michaela Cotner, Nancy Murakami, Yangjin Park, Sejung Yang, Michelle R. Munson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a paucity of research that systematically examines how food behaviors play a role in intimate partner violence (IPV). Therefore, this qualitative study aims to answer the broad question, what role do food behaviors play in intimate relationships? Food behavior narratives emerging from participants of court-mandated domestic violence (DV) offender treatment programs were analyzed using grounded theory methods. Five themes emerged. Two described inflammatory/harmful roles: (1) food as a trigger for anger and violence and (2) food as a mechanism of “othering.” One theme described the role of food behaviors in promoting unequal and equal relationships: (3) food as an embodiment of gender roles. Two themes described reconciliatory/beneficial roles: (4) food as a mechanism of recognition and (5) and food as a representation of group rapport. Food behaviors can escalate into conflicts but can also be used as a tool to resolve conflicts. Limitations and the need for future research are further discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1572-1596
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • communication
  • domestic abuse/violence
  • food and food behaviors
  • gender & family
  • intimate relationships
  • power dynamics
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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