Although psychological aggression has been identified as a risk factor for physical aggression, the prevalence of psychological aggression is much higher than that of physical aggression. To further understand the relationship between psychological and physical aggression, the level of psychological aggression at which physical aggression becomes more likely was evaluated. A representative sample of 268 men and 299 women responded anonymously to a self-report measure of aggression (revised Conflict Tactics Scale [CTS-2]) at baseline, and then 1 year later. Using both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, this study evaluated the level of psychological aggression that is necessary before it is likely that one will be physically aggressive. When one was at the 80th percentile of psychological aggression, there was a 70% probability that a man would be physically aggressive and 85% probability that a woman would be physically aggressive. Longitudinally, when one was at the 80th percentile of psychological aggression at Time 1, there was a 40% probability that a man would be physically aggressive and 45% probability that a woman would be physically aggressive at Time 2. CTS-2 psychological decile scores are provided along with the probability of physical aggression to assist clinicians in interpreting client scores. Implications for research and couples therapy are discussed.
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A critical examination is needed of the often mandated one-size-fits-all Duluth intervention for male perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV). The underlying philosophy of Duluth-based interventions is evaluated as well as the treatment outcome literature for this intervention. There is very little evidence to justify the current legal system practice of mandating all perpetrators to psychological interventions addressing power and control issues. A literature review of scientific findings with IPV perpetrators and the issues that need to be taken into consideration in developing alternative evidence-based interventions are presented. The evidence seems to favor heterogeneity and not homogeneity with respect to both type of perpetrator and type of violence. Assessment and treatment suggestions are made to address this evidence-based heterogeneity and a call is made to those responsible to stop perpetuating the practice of mandating all perpetrators to attend a single intervention for which there is very limited evidence of effectiveness. About two-thirds of male perpetrators of IPV cease being physically aggressive against their partners if they are assigned to a probation officer, but there is minimal evidence that the addition of a Duluth-based intervention makes perpetration less likely.
- Go to article: Sexual Coercion and Psychological Aggression Victimization: Unique Constructs and Predictors of Depression
Sexual Coercion and Psychological Aggression Victimization: Unique Constructs and Predictors of Depression
Sexual coercion of women is a common problem in couples that is often conceptualized as a facet of sexual assault or as a form of psychological aggression. Because psychological aggression is consistently linked to depressive symptoms, the researchers evaluated the unique contribution of sexual coercion victimization in the prediction of depressive symptoms beyond the variance explained by psychological aggression victimization. Sample 1 consisted of women living with a partner for at least a year and parenting a young child, whereas Sample 2 consisted of undergraduate students in relationships of at least 6 months. Overall, 27.4% of the women in Sample 1 and 22.8% of the women in Sample 2 reported experiencing sexual coercion victimization. Across both samples, depressive symptoms and psychological aggression victimization were significantly greater in women who experienced sexual coercion victimization. In addition, sexual coercion victimization and psychological aggression victimization each contributed significantly and uniquely to the prediction of depressive symptoms. Thus, although related to psychological aggression victimization, sexual coercion in an intimate relationship is a distinct construct. Implications for assessment, prevention, and couple therapy are discussed.
Although a substantial body of research exists on men’s perpetration of sexual coercion, research on women’s perpetration is limited. The authors evaluated a model of women’s sexual coercion perpetration in 448 couples. Women with greater body mass indexes (BMIs) were more likely to perpetrate sexual coercion against an intimate partner. Couple weight status (women with higher BMIs than their partners) moderated the relationship between partners’ BMI differences and women’s jealousy. Furthermore, women’s jealousy mediated the relationship between partners’ BMI differences and women’s sexual coercion. These findings show that BMIs impact sexual and relationship quality and suggest that the literature on men’s sexual coercion perpetration may also apply to women’s perpetration. Limitations, implications for couple therapy, and future research are discussed.
- Go to article: Major Depressive Disorder and Depressive Symptomatology as Predictors of Husband to Wife Physical Aggression
Major Depressive Disorder and Depressive Symptomatology as Predictors of Husband to Wife Physical Aggression
This study investigated the association between a husband’s depressive symptomatology and the frequency of physical aggression toward his wife, as well as a husband’s Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and the frequency of physical aggression toward his wife. We assessed physically aggressive men who volunteered for treatment with their wives (N = 89). Almost one third had moderate levels of depressive symptomatology (Beck Depression Inventory [BDI ≥ 14]), but only 11% met criteria for MDD (based on a structured interview [SCID]). Although the rate of MDD was not absolutely high, it was higher than that reported in a community sample (i.e., 3%). A significant relationship between increased depressive symptomatology and frequency of physical aggression was found, but the association was most likely accounted for by self-reported anger. Related contextual factors including marital discord and psychological aggression are addressed. Theoretical and treatment implications are discussed, including the severity of the treatment population (volunteer vs. court mandated), and severity of the depression (symptomatology vs. clinical diagnosis).
Policy makers and researchers give psychological abuse considerably less attention than physical abuse in the partner abuse area. One reason for the relative neglect of psychological abuse is that there are difficulties in arriving at a common definition of psychological abuse that might be useful to both the mental health and legal professions. Another reason for the relative neglect of psychological abuse has been an implicit assumption that physical abuse exacts a greater psychological toll on victims than does psychological abuse. At the extreme level of physical abuse, this assumption seems defensible, but at levels of physical aggression that are most common in marriage and long-term relationships, psychological abuse appears to have as great an impact as physical abuse. Even direct ratings of psychological and physical abuse by women in physically abusive relationships indicate that psychological abuse has a greater adverse effect on them than physical abuse. Retrospective reports, longitudinal research, and treatment dropout research all provide evidence that psychological abuse can exact a negative effect on relationships that is as great as that of physical abuse. Finally, psychological abuse almost always precedes physical abuse, so that prevention and treatment efforts clearly need to address psychological abuse. Eight measures of various forms of psychological abuse that have reasonable psychometric properties and considerable construct validity are reviewed and a definition of psychological abuse in intimate relations is provided.
- Go to article: Physical and Psychological Partner Aggression Across a Decade: A Growth Curve Analysis
The course of physical and psychological partner aggression was investigated over a decade in 203 wives from Suffolk County, New York. Wives reported on their own and on their partners’ aggression at one month before marriage and 6, 18, 30, and 120 months after marriage. This follow-up is the longest period over which partner aggression has been examined. Prevalence rates of wife’s report of wife- and husband-perpetrated physical aggression were 48% and 35% at premarriage, and 13% and 10% ten years later. Using HLM, husband- and wife-perpetrated physical aggression were found to decrease on average approximately one act of aggression per month, regardless of severity and even when controlling for changes in marital satisfaction. There was no significant pattern of change in psychological aggression. These findings are consistent with cross-sectional analyses, and suggest that physical partner aggression decreases in community samples of couples.
In this issue, the previous two articles by Hamby and colleagues and Vega and O’Leary are concerned with whether the method of administration and format of the Conflict Tactics Scale influence participant responses. Because they examine different aspects of the same measure, I was asked to conclude the issue by writing a brief summary and integration of the two articles.
- Go to article: Emotional Intimacy Mediates the Relationship Between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration in OEF/OIF/OND Veterans
Emotional Intimacy Mediates the Relationship Between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration in OEF/OIF/OND Veterans
Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at elevated risk for perpetrating intimate partner violence (IPV). Little research exists on the link between PTSD and physical IPV in Operational Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) veterans. A sample of 110 male participants was recruited from the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). Three separate models were compared to determine which best explained the relationships between PTSD, IPV, emotional intimacy, and relationship satisfaction. Constructs were assessed via a battery of standardized, self-report instruments. Thirty-three percent of veterans had clinically elevated PTSD scores, and 31% of the men reported that they engaged in physical IPV in the past year. Poor emotional intimacy mediated the association between PTSD symptoms and perpetration of physical IPV. Past predeployment IPV perpetration was shown to be a predictor for current postdeployment physical IPV perpetration.
This study examined associations between family of origin violence, self-reports of psychopathology on the MCMI-II, and current spouse abuse among partner assaultive men. Compared to nonviolent men in discordant (n = 24) and well-adjusted (n = 24) relationships, partner assaultive men (n = 24) were significantly more likely to report childhood histories of physical abuse and physical abuse of the mother in the family of origin. The partner assaultive men also reported significantly higher scores on a variety of MCMI-II personality disorder and Axis I disorder scales. When negative affectivity was controlled, however, batterers differed from contrast groups only on scales assessing antisocial and aggressive characteristics. Within the partner assaultive group, a history of severe childhood abuse was associated with higher scores on a variety of MCMI-II personality disorder and Axis I disorder scales, and higher levels of psychological and physical aggression directed toward the current relationship partner. Abuse of the mother in the family of origin among batterers was associated with higher levels of psychological and physical aggression toward the current partner, but not with self-reported psychopathology. The results support prior descriptions of a batterer subgroup with significant trauma histories, more psychological difficulties, and higher abuse levels than other batterers, suggesting continuities in social and emotional development from childhood maltreatment to adult relationship violence.