Friday, February 17, 2012

Intimate Terrorism - Straus edition

So much stuff going on....time to work on the stack. Straus on Intimate terrorism. Stop, before we start, wiki on different types of DV:

The dynamics between the couple may include:
Situational couple violence, which arises out of conflicts that escalate to arguments and then to violence, is not connected to a general pattern of control, generally infrequent, and likely the most common type of intimate partner violence. Women are as likely as men to be abusers, however, women are more likely to be physically injured, require police intervention and become fearful of their mates.

Intimate terrorism (IT), involves a pattern of ongoing control using emotional, physical and other forms of domestic violence and is what generally leads victims, who are usually women, to women's shelters. It is what was traditionally the definition of domestic violence and is generally illustrated with the "Power and Control Wheel" to illustrate the different and inter-related forms of abuse.

Violent resistance (VR), or "self-defense", is violence perpetrated by victims against their abusive partners.[13] It is generally used infrequently because men are usually able to physically overpower women. Michael Johnson finds that "Most women who resist violently soon turn to other means of coping with their abuse."

Common couple violence, where both partners are engaged in domestic violence actions.[14]
Mutual violent control (MVC) is a rare type of intimate partner violence that occurs when both partners act in a violent manner, battling for control.[15]

Intimate terrorism is sort of the holy grail of DV, as in it is used for proponents of the asymmetrical view of DV (= DV means men hit women) to explain surveys that find equal rates of DV. By the description alone you can see that the author of the wiki article sees it the same way.

So what did Straus find:

This article re-conceptualizes "Intimate Terrorism" to more fully reflect the fact that violence between partners is inherently a dyadic phenomenon. The methodological objective is to provide procedures for using the Conflict Tactics Scales to identify Intimate Terrorism. This study reports data on 13,877 university students which found that, among those in physically violent relationships, 20% of men and 26% of women met Johnson's criteria for Intimate Terrorism. Bi-directional violence was associated with the highest probability of injury. Results are consistent with other studies using Johnson's procedures on general population samples. Programs to reduce PV, including reducing violence against women, should address violence and coercive control by both partners.


A review of empirical studies of Intimate Terrorism raised questions about Johnson’s conclusion that Intimate Terrorism is a characteristic that rarely occurs in the general population and that it is “perpetrated almost exclusively by men” (Johnson, 2006). Consequently, the objectives of our study included investigating the prevalence of Intimate Terrorism in a nonclinical sample and testing Johnson's assertion that Intimate Terrorism is perpetrated almost entirely by men.

I am writing this as I read through that study. Especially the summary of other data is interesting and gives us data on self-defence and the gender difference in injury and lethal attacks (both 1/3 - 2/3), but let us not get carried away here. Intimate terrorism some findings from other surveys:

Four studies of general population samples do provide data on the percent of men and women classified as Intimate Terrorists. In a second study by Graham-Kevan and Archer (2004). They analyzed data on 1,339 staff and students at a university in England and found that 13% of women and 9% of men were categorized as Intimate Terrorists using one mode of analysis and 23% of women and 7% of men using a second mode of analysis. Thus, both analyses found more female than male Intimate Terrorists. (The difference between analyses occurs because the percent classified as Intimate Terrorist depends on the cutting point used to identify high control.) Prospero (2006) studied 609 university students. He did not report the percent of men and women categorized as Intimate Terrorists, presumably because he found no gender 10 differences in the percent of men and women in that category. Analysis of a Canadian national sample by Laroche (2005) found that 26% of women and 19% of men were categorized as Intimate Terrorists. Hines (2010) studied a community sample of 520 men. The men completed a measure of coercive control about their own behavior and about the behavior of their partner. The scores for 20% of the female partners were in the high controlling category (the crux of the
Intimate Terrorist classification according to Johnson), compared to 12% of the men.

So some solid data here. I skipped the survey methods in that report and jumped right to the conclusion:

The concept of Intimate Terrorism is intriguing because the name evokes PV that is horrifying, likely to be unilateral, and likely to result in injury. It therefore deserves high priority as a focus of research that can aid prevention and treatment.

[...]The study approximated the procedures developed by Johnson (2005) (Johnson personal communication, 2006) and found that, of the sub-group of relationships in which either or both partners were physically violent, 27% involved Intimate Terrorism by one or both partners. This is similar to the 35% found by Johnson and Leone (2005). These high prevalence rates pose a problem because Johnson intended the concept of Intimate Terrorism to identify a type of PV that rarely occurs in the general population and could therefore help explain the discrepancy between the symmetry in PV found by general population studies and the male-predominance found by studies of criminal justice and shelter samples.

The hypothesis that Intimate Terrorists are almost exclusively men was not supported. We found that, using Johnson's methodology, about the same percent of women as men were classified as Intimate Terrorists. The approximately equal percent of male and female Intimate Terrorists obtained using Johnson's methodology is consistent with all previous studies of general population samples (see review section). Moreover, according to both the men and women in this study, in three quarters of the relationships involving Intimate Terrorism, violence was mutual.

[...]the rate of injury inflicted by women was high, but not as high as that of injuries inflicted by the male students in this study. Mutual violence, regardless of whether it was Situational Violence or Intimate Terrorism was associated with the highest rate of both minor injury and severe injury. This is consistent with all previous studies that have investigated the issue (Whitaker, et al., 2007).

[...]The finding that in at least three quarters of the relationships with Intimate Terrorism were mutual is startling because a central aspect of
the concept of Johnson’s conceptualization of Intimate Terrorism is that it is unilateral. The high percentage of mutual Intimate Terrorism is consistent with the studies reviewed earlier which, without exception, found that mutuality occurred in over a third of general population samples
and typically about 60% of dating couple samples. Yet, research is needed on why the percentage may be even higher for a type of PV that was identified by Johnson as male-only violence. One of the processes which might be operating is assortative mating, i.e., the tendency of persons with antisocial and violent tendencies to establish relationships with a similar partner (Kim & Capaldi, 2004). A second possibility is self-defense. However, because the review of empirical studies earlier in this paper found low rates of self-defense as a proximate motive for women as well as men, this may not be a large part of the explanation. Third, retaliation may be a large part of the explanation (Carrado, et al., 1996; Hettrich & O'leary, 2007). The intersection of these three processes could explain the prevalence of mutual violence in the studies reviewed, and may be even more important for Intimate Terrorism.

He offers critic of the definition of intimate terrorists (only unilateral, sever violence and frequent violence should be counted). What he said about treatment was also interesting:

A new paradigm is needed. We suggest that it requires treatment programs to change from an exclusive focus on male perpetration and
male coercive control to one which recognizes the predominance of bi-directional violence and female as well as male coercive control. Treatment for PV should begin with determining if both partners have been physically violent, and if so (as will usually be the case) the treatment needs
to involve both partners, either in individual or couple treatment, or both. Given the evidence from this and many other studies that mutual violence is the predominant pattern and that mutual violence is most likely to result in injury to women, recognizing and treating violence by
both partners is likely to make a major contribution to the safety and health of women. Partner violence prevention efforts have been directed almost exclusively to boys and men, even though study after study, such as the national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys of the Centers For Disease Control (Eaton, et al., 2006) have repeatedly shown that in relationships among teen-agers and young adults, girls and women perpetrate and initiate PV violence more often than boys and men. Instead, the programs are based on the belief that the cure lies in ending male dominance in the family and society, and that the required intervention consists of reeducating men to abandon patriarchal beliefs and behaviors. As already noted, we and other critics of the current approach agree that equality between partners is extremely important, but we disagree because we believe it is essential to recognize the research evidence showing women engage in violence and coercive control as much or more than men. The design of
prevention and treatment efforts must take that into account (Straus, 2009a). However, despite the growing instance on "evidence based" treatment (American Psychological Association Council of Representatives, 2005), the ideological commitment to "patriarchy" as the primary cause of PV is so strong that treatments for which there is solid evidence, such as programs to improve anger management skills are avoided, often denounced, and sometimes prohibited. For example, Maiuro and Eberle (2008) cite the West Virginia regulation that “ ‘Anger management’ theory and methods are never appropriate for use in batterer intervention services." Their survey of state regulations found that 68% of the states explicitly prohibit any type of couple sessions or therapy in court referred treatment.

And another pointless sentence from me at the end. Stop reading, the article is over.

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