PSYC 3460 Chapter Notes -Intimate Partner Violence, Conflict Tactics Scale, Social Learning Theory

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
University of Guelph
PSYC 3460
Domestic Violence and Sexual Offenders
Domestic Violence
The term domestic violence refers to any violence occurring between family members.
Intimate partner violence refers to any violence occurring between intimate partners who are
living together or separated.
oAlso known as spousal violence
oAbuse and aggression within intimate relationships has a long history and is,
unfortunately, still common.
oViolence against partners is varied in terms of types and severity and includes physical
(e.g., hitting, punching, stabbing, burning), sexual, financial (e.g., restricting access to
personal funds, forcing complete financial responsibility, theft of paycheques), and
emotional abuse (e.g., verbal attacks, degradation, threats to hurt family member or pets,
isolation from family members, unwarranted accusations about infidelity).
The Conflict Tactics Scale
The scale most commonly used to measure domestic assault has been the Conflict Tactics Scale
This scale consists of 18 items indented to measure how the person and his or her partner
resolve conflict.
The items range from constructive problem solving (e.g. discuss the item calmly) to verbal or
indirect aggression (e.g., swearing or threatening to hit) to physical aggression (e.g., slapping or
using a gun).
Respondents are asked how frequently they have engaged in the behaviour and how often they
have experienced these acts.
Researchers using the CTS have found that male and female respondents report the same
frequency and severity of violent behaviour.
Note: Read Box 10.1 Husband Battering Does Exist
Although commonly used, the CTS is often criticized for a number of reasons:
1. The CTS is introduced by asking respondents to focus on how they settle
disputes; however, many acts of violence are not precipitated by an
argument, and therefore may go unreported
2. The CTS does not include the full range of violent acts (e.g., sexual
aggression is excluded)
3. Many acts are combined into one item (e.g., kicking, biting, and punching);
different results might therefore emerge were such acts not combined
4. The CTS does not consider the different consequences of the same
aggressive act for men and women (e.g., greater injury generally occurs
when a man punches a woman than vice versa)
5. The CTS does not account for motive of violence (i.e., offensive versus
In response to these and other criticisms, CTS was reviewed with deletion and addition of new
Intimate Partners: A Risky Relationship
In the 1993 Statistics Canada Violence Against Women Survey, 51% of women reported at least
one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
Violence within dating relationships is also common in university students.
oCanadian University students study 35% of female students and 17% of male students
had been physically abused at least once in a dating relationship.
In sum, the results of the various surveys demonstrates that both men and women experience
violence, although women report experiencing more sever forms of violence (i.e. being choked,
sexually assaulted, threatened by a partner with a knife or gun).
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Violence against women was more likely to be reported to the police (36%) than was violence
against men (17%).
Theories of Intimate Violence
Theory of Patriarchy
oThe theory of patriarchy was first described in the 1970s and is often associated with
sociology and feminism.
oPatriarchy refers to a broad set of cultural beliefs and values that support the male
dominance of women.
oSocial Patriarchy – male domination at the social level
oFamilial Patriarchy – male domination within the family
Social Learning Theory
oSocial learning theory was developed by Bandura to explain aggression and has been
applied to explain sexual assault.
oThere are three main components to the social learning theory:
origins of aggression
instigators of aggression
regulators of aggression
oOne way people acquire new behaviours is via observational learning.
Learning behaviours by watching others performs these behaviours.
Bandura describes three major sources for observational learning:
family of origin
the subculture the person lives in
televised violence
oNot all behaviour that is observed, however, will be practised.
oSocial learning theory posits that in order for a person to acquire a behaviour, it must
have functional value for him or her.
oBehaviour that is rewarded increased in likelihood of occurrence and behaviour that is
punished decreases in likelihood of occurrence.
oInstigators: In social learning theory, these are events in the environment that act as a
stimulus for acquired behaviours.
Aversive instigators produce emotional arousal and how a person labels that
emotional arousal will influence how he or she responds.
Studies with male batterers have found that they tend to label many different
emotional states as anger – male-emotional funnel system.
Incentive instigators are perceived rewards for engaging in aggression.
When people believe they can satisfy their needs by using aggression, they may
decide to be violent.
oRegulators: In social learning theory, these are consequences of behaviours.
Two types of regulators include external punishment and self punishment.
An example of external punishment would be if the person was arrested for
engaging in violence.
An example of self punishment would be if the person felt remorse for engaging
in violence.
If the consequence outweighs the rewards for engaging in the behaviour and if
alternatives are provided to cope with instigation, the likelihood of violence
should diminish.
Why Do Battered Women Stay?
ofor the sake of the children
oto give the relationship another chance
othe partner promised to change
olack of money or a place to go
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omate needs me
oshelter was full
ochildren [with me] wanted to go back
othreats of mate to find me and kill me
In order for a women to leave, she needs resources ushc as money, a place to go, and support
from the criminal justice systems (examples of environmental barriers).
Women are socialized to be the primary caretaker in relationships and appear to place a high
value on the promises of the abuser to change.
In addition, they return because they do not want their children to suffer.
Psychological barriers also exist.
Some victims reported feeling safer remaining in the relationship than leaving, because they
knew what the abuser was doing.
Recently, researchers have begun to study the link between family violence and animal
Note: Read Box 10.2 Woman’s Best Friend: Pet Abuse and Intimate Violence
A Heterogeneous Population: Typologies of Male Batterers
Family-only batterer
oA male spousal batterer who is typically not violent outside the home, does not show
much psychopathology, and does not possess negative attitudes supportive of violence.
Dysphoric/borderline batterer
oA male spousal batterer who exhibits some violence outside the family, is depressed and
has borderline personality traits, and has problems with jealousy.
Generally violent/antisocial batterer
oA male spousal batterer who is violent outside the home, engages in other criminal acts,
has drug and alcohol problems, has impulse control problems, and possesses violence-
supportive beliefs.
Criminal Justice Response
For centuries, wife battering was seen as a private family matter and police were reluctant to
become involved.
When called to a domestic violence scene, police would attempt to calm the people involved an,
once order was restored they would leave.
Since the 1980s, however, mandatory charging policies have been in effect in Canada and in
most jurisdictions in the United States.
Mandatory charging policies give police the authority to lay charges against a suspect when
there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe that an assault has occurred.
Prior to mandatory charging, women were required to bring charges against their husbands.
Women were often too intimated and feared further violence as a result, charges were usually
not laid.
Does Treatment of Male Batterers Work?
A number of different procedures have been developed to treat male batterers.
The two most common forms of intervention are feminist psychoeducational group therapy and
cognitive behavioural group therapy.
According to the Duluth model, the primary cause of domestic violence is patriarchal ideology.
Group therapy in this model focuses on challenging the man’s perceived right to control his
In contrast, cognitive behavioural therapy subscribes to the belief that violence is a learned
behaviour and that use of violence is reinforcing for the offender by obtaining violence compliance
and by reducing feelings of tension.
Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on the costs of engaging in violence.
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