The motivations behind intimate partner violence (IPV) have been a controversial topic. It has been suggested that women’s use of IPV mainly occurs in the context of self-defense (Saunders 1986). However, men also report perpetrating IPV in self-defense (Harned 2001; Makepeace 1986). This article differentiates self-defense from retaliation and reviews findings regarding these motives for perpetrators of IPV. Self-defense motives are common among battered women; however, undergraduates and arrested perpetrators often report other motives. Women do not consistently report using violence in self-defense more than men do. Clinical and research implications are discussed and existing self-defense measures are critiqued.