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Violence Vict. 2006 Jun;21(3):267-85.

The role of coping and problem drinking in men's abuse of female partners: test of a path model.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.


This article examines the relationship of coping and problem drinking to men's abusive behavior towards female partners. While previous research has demonstrated a consistent association between problem drinking and male abuse of intimate partners, virtually no studies have assessed the role of coping in relation to men's violence. Furthermore, multivariate studies have not examined how these factors operate together to increase risk for abusive behavior. An ethnically diverse sample of 147 men in a court-mandated program for domestic violence offenders completed questionnaires at the first session. Path modeling was conducted to test the extent to which coping and problem drinking predicted both physical and psychological abuse. In addition, the relationships of problem drinking and physical abuse to injury of the men's female partners were examined. Results indicated that both the use of avoidance and problem-solving coping to deal with relationship problems were related indirectly to abusive behavior through problem drinking. Greater use of avoidance coping strategies was more likely among problem drinkers. By contrast, men who used higher levels of problem-solving coping were less likely to be problem drinkers. Avoidance, but not problem-solving coping also was directly and positively related to physical and psychological abuse. Men identified as problem drinkers were more likely to use both physical and psychological abuse. Finally, greater use of physical violence was strongly related to higher levels of injury among female partners, and served to mediate the relationship between problem drinking and injury. Results are discussed in terms of their contribution to the identification of risk and protective factors for men's violent behavior toward intimate female partners and implications for developing intervention strategies.

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