The purpose of this article is to describe the rationale and methods of couple-based interventions designed to treat and prevent intimate partner violence. Cognitive, affective, and behavioral individual and couple risk factors for violence are reviewed, as are therapeutic concerns regarding the use of conjoint treatment. Current conjoint treatments that are intended to reduce the incidence of abusive behavior among couples in which one or both partners have engaged in forms of psychological and/or mild to moderate physical aggression, do not engage in battering or severe violence, and desire to improve their relationships and stay together are described. We focus on our Couples Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP) that compares the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral couple therapy procedures and treatment as usual at a university-based couple and family therapy clinic. Outcomes from the CAPP project and evaluations of the other programs demonstrate the potential of judiciously applied conjoint interventions for aggressive behavior in couple relationships.
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The literature indicates that witnessing domestic violence is harmful to children, that there is a high overlap between domestic violence and child abuse, and that safety is an important issue for separating women because separation from abusive partners is a particularly dangerous time for victims of domestic violence. Further, child custody is often a contentious issue in domestic violence cases. Child custody evaluations are typically used to assist courts in deciding custody when custody is disputed and when the best interests of the child are unclear. The concept of “best interests of the child” does not specify evaluation techniques or approaches, however, and while custody evaluation standards generally address the best interests of the child, they offer little guidance in high-risk situations such as parental domestic violence. In addition, there has been limited research focused on understanding the custody evaluation process or the degree to which practitioners differ in their procedures and reporting for cases with and without parental domestic violence. This study is one of the first to examine characteristics of disputed custody cases and their custody evaluation reports for differences between domestic violence and non-domestic violence cases. This study selected a 60% random sample of cases with custody evaluations in Fiscal Year 1998 and 1999 (n = 82 cases). Out of the 82 cases, 56% (n = 46) met criteria for classification into the domestic violence group and 44% (n = 36) did not. In general, results indicated that although there were some important differences in court records between cases with and without domestic violence, there were only minor differences between custody evaluation reported process and recommendations for the two groups. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
- Go to article: Intimate Partner Physical Assault Before and During Pregnancy: How Does It Relate to Women’s Psychological Vulnerability?
Intimate Partner Physical Assault Before and During Pregnancy: How Does It Relate to Women’s Psychological Vulnerability?
Most studies of intimate partner violence tend to be behaviorally focused, with scant attention paid to women’s perception of vulnerability in their relationships. Since past research has linked such feelings and cognitions to women’s health problems, it is important to examine multiple aspects of relationships when studying partner violence. Therefore, this study examines women’s perceptions of vulnerability as they relate to their experiences of physical assault by their partner before and during pregnancy. A sample of 86 prenatal care patients were interviewed. The women reported their experiences of partner physical assault using the Conflict Tactics Scale 2, and they reported their perceptions concerning their relationships using the Women’s Experiences with Battering Scale. Bivariate and multivariate analyses found that experiencing intimate partner physical assault was highly predictive of women’s perceptions of vulnerability and loss of control in their relationships, with women who have been in physically violent relationships for longer periods of time being the most likely to express such feelings. Given that previous research has found such perceptions tied to negative health outcomes, clinicians are urged to evaluate their female patients’ feelings of vulnerability as well as their experiences of intimate partner physical assault.
- Go to article: Does the Transtheoretical Model Predict Attrition in Domestic Violence Treatment Programs?
Attrition in intervention programs for domestically violent men is considered to be a serious and enduring problem. Researchers have found a number of sociodemographic variables that partially explain this phenomenon; however, models based on these variables have a limited predictive power. Scott (2004) argues that a firm theoretical base is needed in future investigations of the problem and suggests the use of the transtheoretical model of behavior change (TTM), which was found to predict dropout with accuracy in other areas of behavioral change. This study investigated the relationship between four TTM constructs (Stages of Change, Decisional Balance, Self-Efficacy, and Processes of Change) and premature termination with a sample of Canadian French-speaking men (N = 302) in five domestic violence treatment programs. Contrary to the initial hypotheses, the TTM constructs did not predict dropout. Discussion investigates how social desirability bias affects results being obtained by current TTM measures and whether more motivation to change at intake necessarily relates to involvement in treatment for longer periods of time.
- Go to article: Prevalence of Wife Rape and Other Intimate Partner Sexual Coercion in a Nationally Representative Sample of Women
Prevalence of Wife Rape and Other Intimate Partner Sexual Coercion in a Nationally Representative Sample of Women
This article provides a national estimate of wife rape and various other types of sexual coercion by a spouse or intimate partner. Findings from a 1997 national probability sample revealed that 34% of women were victims of some type of sexual coercion with a husband or partner in their lifetime. Of these women, 10% experienced rape by a current partner. This rate increased to 13% when only victims of rape by a current husband were included, which is consistent with previous studies on wife rape. Other findings reveal that women had unwanted sex with a current spouse or partner in return for a partner’s spending money on them (24%), because they thought it was their “duty” (43%), after a romantic situation (29%), after the partner begged and pleaded with them (26%), and after their partner said things to bully them (9%). The importance of examining a continuum of sexual coercion is discussed and findings are compared and contrasted with other prevalence rates for sexual coercion in marriage.
- Go to article: Children’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence: Relations Between Parent-Child Concordance and Children’s Adjustment
Children’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence: Relations Between Parent-Child Concordance and Children’s Adjustment
The current study examined the extent to which seventy-five 5- to 13-year-old children and their mothers agreed about whether children had been exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) and the association between parent–child agreement and children’s psychological adjustment. One type of disagreement (i.e., parents failed to report IPV exposure that children reported) was associated with children’s perceptions of less positive family relationships. Parents of these children, however, reported fewer child adjustment problems than did parents who agreed with their children about children’s IPV exposure. The findings suggest the importance of obtaining children’s reports of their own exposure to IPV in addition to parental reports. Moreover, parent–child concordance with respect to children’s IPV exposure may be an important variable to examine in understanding variations in children’s adjustment.
- Go to article: Examining Intergenerational Violence: Violent Role Modeling or Weak Parental Controls?
Family violence research has uncovered a positive relationship between parental violence and children’s later involvement in intimate violence. In a similar vein, criminology’s social control theory suggests that weak or absent parental controls are associated with a variety of delinquent acts. Little research, however, investigates the link between parental violence, parental controls, and dating violence. This article asks two research questions: How is interparental violence associated with parent-child attachments, monitoring, adolescent dating, attitudes toward violence, and dating violence? And second, are there independent and interactive effects of inter-parental violence, and parental controls on dating violence offending and attitudes towards violence? Dating violence offending is significantly associated with witnessed inter-parental violence, high dating frequency, and low parental monitoring. Attitudes towards violence are associated with witnessed inter-parental violence, lower parental attachment, and the interaction of witnessed inter-parental violence and parental attachment. The implications for role modeling and social control theory are discussed.
- Go to article: The Revised Safe At Home Instrument for Assessing Readiness to Change Intimate Partner Violence
This article describes the development and factor structure of the Revised Safe At Home instrument, a 35-item self-report measure designed to assess individuals’ readiness to change their intimate partner violence behaviors. Seven new items have been added, representing content specific to the Maintenance stage, and other items have been revised to strengthen the assessment of earlier stages and address gender concerns. Confirmatory factor analysis using multisite data (two sites, a total of 281 men at intake) supported the conclusion that a four-factor model (Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation/Action, and Maintenance stages) was consistent with the observed covariances. A high degree of correlation between the Preparation/Action and Maintenance scales was observed, but subsequent testing indicated a need to treat the two as distinct factors in the model. It is recommended that scoring include only 31 items that perform well.
- Go to article: Experience of Maltreatment as a Child and Acceptance of Violence in Adult Intimate Relationships: Mediating Effects of Distortions in Cognitive Schemas
Experience of Maltreatment as a Child and Acceptance of Violence in Adult Intimate Relationships: Mediating Effects of Distortions in Cognitive Schemas
Links exist between being subjected to maltreatment as a child and tendencies to accept violence as normative in adult relationships. Constructivist Self Development Theory suggests that such relationships may be affected by “cognitive disruptions” in “self” and “other” schemas. Mediating effects of distorted cognitive schemas on the association between history of child maltreatment and the acceptance of violence in intimate interpersonal relationships were investigated among 433 men and women. Outcomes indicated that individuals who reported childhood maltreatment were more likely to display distortions in their cognitive schemas and those individuals with disrupted schemas were more likely to accept relationship violence. Least-square multiple regression analyses revealed that distorted beliefs fully mediated the relationship between reporting childhood maltreatment and acceptance of violence, for both men and women. Subsidiary analyses suggested that this full mediation was replicated for schemas involving the self but not for schemas about others.
- Go to article: Perceptions of Motives in Intimate Partner Violence: Expressive Versus Coercive Violence
This study examined perceptions of motives in the perpetration of intimate partner violence. Respondents (N = 401) of diverse professions read three vignettes and indicated their perception of the aggressor’s motive (from 1 = Exclusively Expressive; 5 = Exclusively Coercive). Half of respondents read vignettes describing male-perpetrated violence against a female partner; the other half, female-perpetrated violence against a male partner. Overall, male-perpetrated aggression was seen as more coercive than female-perpetrated aggression, particularly by shelter workers and victim advocates. Further analyses revealed that men generally gave higher ratings than women, and that women rated female-perpetrated aggression as less coercive than male-perpetrated aggression. In contrast, men did not differ in their ratings of male versus female perpetration. Implications are discussed with respect to the assessment and treatment of partner violence.