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 Male and Female Perpetrated Partner Abuse

 

Table of Contents

 

Chapter 1

 

Chapter 2 Part 1

 

Chapter 2 Part 2

 

Chapter 2 Part 3

 

Chapter  3 Part 1

 

Chapter 3 Part 2

 

Chapter 3 Part 3

 

Chapter 3 Part 4

 

Chapter 4

 

Chapter 5 Part 1

 

Chapter 5 Part 2

 

Chapter 5 Part 3

 

Chapter 5 Part 4

 

Chapter 5 Part 5

 

Chapter 5 Part 6

 

Chapter 6 Part 1

 

Chapter 6 Part 2

 

Appendix A

 

Appendix B

 

Appendix C

 

References

Male and Female Perpetrated Partner Abuse: Testing a Diathesis-Stress Model 

by Reena Sommer

Chapter 3, Part 3

CHAPTER 3 (part 3)

THE WINNIPEG HEALTH AND DRINKING SURVEY - WAVE 1

Female Data

1. The prevalence of female perpetrated partner abuse was 39.1 percent with the most common abuse tactic also being "throwing or smashing something (but not directly at partner)" (23.6%). See Table 4.
 

Table 4. Female perpetrated violence  (Wave 1 data) (Sommer et al., 1992).

Type of violence Number of occurrences %
Minor violence acts
  Threw or smashed something (not at partner) 108 23.6
  Threatened to throw something (not at partner) 69 14.9
  Threw something at partner 75 16.2
  Pushed, grabbed or shoved 92 19.8
Severe violence acts
  Hit partner 73 15.8
  Hit partner with something hard 16 3.1
Violence indexes
  Minor violence 173 38.0
  Severe violence 75 16.2
  Overall violence 178 39.1

Note: There are 2 missing cases. Overall violence scale statistics: Mean = 7.38, S.D. = 3.37, and range = 6-28.

2. Partner abuse by female respondents was significantly predicted by being young in age and having high scores on Esyenck's Psychoticism Scale (EPQ-R), the Neuroticism Index and the MacAndrew Scale.  An interaction effect was found between alcohol consumption and the EPQ-P.  The strongest predictor of partner abuse by women was the main effect of having high scores on the EPQ-P.  Table 5 illustrates the results of a standard multiple regression model testing both main and interaction effects.
 

Table 5: Standard multiple regression analyses predicting female perpetrated partner abuse (Sommer et al., 1992).

Predictor r Beta R2
Age -0.23*** -0.21***
Years of education -0.07 -0.02
Unemployment 0.05 0.03
Income -0.14** -0.06
Catholic -0.01 -0.03
Protestant 0.00 0.04
White 0.10* -0.003
Ethanol 0.001 0.14
Alcohol dependence 0.02 -0.07
EPQP 0.39*** 0.30***
EPQE 0.10* -0.003
EPQL -0.17** -0.03
Neuroticism Index 0.32*** 0.35***
MacAndrew Scale 0.16** 0.16*
Alcohol consumption & EPQP -0.001 -0.38*
Alcohol consumption & Neuroticism Index 0.20*** -0.13
Alcohol consumption & EPQE -0.001 0.19
Alcohol consumption & EPQL -0.03 -0.15
Alcohol consumption & Mac -0.004 0.08
Equation .28

Note: * p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p <.001
           F(19,240)=4.87, p < .001, adj. R2 =0.22.
 
 

Limitations of Wave 1 Partner Abuse Data

Wave 1 research has made an important contribution to the family violence literature because it is one of the first general population studies to investigate the prevalence of partner abuse by including both socio-demographic and individual variables in its analyses.
     Yet, in spite of the findings provided by this research, a number of theoretical and empirical questions have been raised. A discussion of Wave 1 results and its subsequent limitations follows.

Wave 1 data provides support for the role of both socio-demographic and individual risk factors in the perpetration of partner abuse.  As might be expected, the regression analyses yielded abuser profiles that differed for males and females.  The one common predictor, however, is the finding that both male and female abusers are most likely to score high on the Neuroticism Index.

Results demonstrated that male and female partner abusers can be distinguished in terms of how alcohol abuse influences the likelihood of perpetration.  Whereas alcohol dependence and the consumption of alcohol (as it interacted with Neuroticism) were found to be salient factors in the prediction of male perpetrated violence, the same did not hold true in the prediction of female perpetrated violence.
     Although the interaction between Eysenck's P Scale and alcohol consumption was found to be a weak predictor for female abusers, it appears that the role of alcohol in partner abuse is experienced differently by males and females.

In an attempt to explain this sex difference, our article on female perpetrated spouse abuse (Sommer et al., 1992) relied upon Frieze and Schafer's (1984) cognitive model.  According to this model, "a drinker's reactions will depend upon the social context in which drinking occurs and the prior expectations of the person about how the alcohol will affect him or her" (p.277). We suggested that "the effects of alcohol consumption are thought to be dependent upon an individual's cognitive interpretation of the physiological arousal experienced in a manner that is consistent with prior sex-role socialization" (Sommer et al., 1992, p. 1321). For women, the physiological effects associated with alcohol consumption may be interpreted as emotional warmth, whereas for men, it may be interpreted as power.

The contextual role of alcohol abuse in the perpetration of partner abuse is an issue that has arisen from this research.
     Specifically, the question "Is alcohol consumed during an abuse episode?" is in need of being answered.  In doing so, it will be possible to determine whether it is the reaction to the immediate effects of alcohol consumption, or merely the alcoholic lifestyle, that is most influential in the perpetration of partner abuse.

The socio-demographic risk factors found to be significant for male (i.e., unemployment, nonwhite) and female abusers (i.e., young age) are also consistent with the findings of other general population surveys on partner abuse.

Contrary to those derived from clinical data (Gondolf et al., 1990), abusers in this, and other general population based research, were not necessarily defined as being of low SES backgrounds even though the male data demonstrated that being unemployed was a risk factor.
     Further, the finding that being nonwhite was also a salient factor in the prediction of male perpetrated spouse abuse, needs to be considered cautiously since our male sample was 93.3 percent white.
     Finally, the finding that female abusers are most likely to be young in age is consistent with other research (Kennedy & Dutton, 1989; Shupe & Stacey, 1987; Stacey & Shupe, 1983; Straus et al., 1980), as well as with the profile of the deviance prone individual (Sommer et al., 1992).

Although Wave 1 data included the socio-demographic variables most often used to define a sample, several other variables commonly investigated in family violence research were omitted.  For example, the effects of violence in the family and life stress events were not considered in the analysis of Wave 1 data.  In view of the extensive literature suggesting that each of these factors are important correlates of partner abuse, it is thought that they too, may add to the explanatory power of a regression model.

Finally, with respect to the prevalence of perpetrated partner abuse, Wave 1 data demonstrated that 26.3 percent of males and 39.1 percent of females in this random sample of adult Winnipeg residents acknowledged at least one incident of partner abuse during the course of their relationship with their current partner.  While the prevalence rates of partner abuse reported are consistent with Straus et al.'s (1980) findings, explanations regarding a significant sex difference (Sommer et al., 1991) in its occurrence remain a matter of speculation.

The recency of the partner abuse was also not examined. Establishing whether the abuse reported is part of a well established pattern or behaviour, or simply an isolated event, possibly occurring early on in the relationship is a matter that remains unresolved.
     Contextual issues (i.e., the perpetration of abuse occurring in self defence), as well as the consequences of partner abuse (i.e., partner's need for medical attention following a partner abuse episode) were not examined, and remain a challenge for future research.

The limitations just described indicate that the study of abuse between intimate partners like any other area of research is not without its problems. It was the goal of this study to be sensitive to these issues and to attempt to overcome them by way of the methods outlined in the following chapter.  In so doing, some of the uncertainty regarding the dynamics underlying both male and female perpetrated partner abuse was clarified.

Next: Chapter 3 Part 4

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Updates:
2001 02 10 (format changes)
2003 10 01 (format changes)