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Violence Vict. 1996 Winter;11(4):371-92.

Psychological factors in the longitudinal course of battering: when do the couples split up? When does the abuse decrease?

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Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle 98105, USA.


The longitudinal course of battering was investigated over a 2-year time span. Forty-five batterers and their spouses were assessed with self-report, psychophysiological, and marital interaction measures. Both the stability of the relationship and of the battering were assessed. At the two-year follow-up, 62% of the couples were still married and living together, while 38% had separated or divorced. A combination of six variables, reflecting severity of husband emotional abuse, wife dissatisfaction, husband physiological arousal, and wife defending herself assertively, was 90.2% accurate in predicting separation or divorce 2 years later. Of the couples still living together at follow-up, 46% of the batterers did not reduce their levels of severe violence, while 54% did significantly decrease levels of violence. Husbands who continued to be severely violent at 2-year follow-up were more domineering, globally negative and emotionally abusive toward their wives at Time 1 than husbands who reduced their levels of violence. Even though 54% of the batterers decreased the frequency of violent acts over the 2-year period, only 7% achieved complete desistance. Moreover, husband emotional abuse did not decrease over the 2-year period, even when physical abuse did.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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