Dr. Eila Perkis at the University of Haifa and colleagues examined intimate violence and found violence within couples is usually the result of a calculated decision-making process and the partner inflicting violence will do so only as long as the price to be paid is not too high.
Perkis divided intimate violence into four levels of severity -- verbal aggression, threats of physical aggression, moderate physical aggression, and severe physical aggression.
"These four levels follow one another in an escalating sequence; someone who uses verbal violence might well move on over time to threatening physical attack, and from there it is only downhill towards acting on the threat," Perkis says in a statement.
The results of the study should not be correlated to cases of homicide since the dynamic in couples in such cases are different and such offenses are not included in the chain of violent acts being examined, Perkis warns.
There appears to be a sort of silent agreement in which violent behavior is "OK" and where a red line is drawn, the study says.
Harsher violence that is not included in the "normative" dynamic between members of a couple will result in a higher price to be paid by the violent partner, the researchers say.