Abstract: The Treatment Needs of Batterers with Substance Abuse Problems: A Comparison of Men Who Batter (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

13268 The Treatment Needs of Batterers with Substance Abuse Problems: A Comparison of Men Who Batter

Saturday, January 16, 2010: 3:30 PM
Pacific Concourse L (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Mark D. Thomas, PhD , Indiana University Northwest, Assistant Professor, Gary, IN
Larry W. Bennett, PhD , University of Illinois at Chicago, Professor, Chicago, IL
Charles Stoops, PhD , Dominican University, Assistant Professor, River Forest, IL
Purpose: Prior research has shown that domestic violence and the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) frequently co-occur. In fact, most studies exploring the confluence of domestic violence and substance abuse have estimated the rate of co-occurrence to be 50% or higher. As a result, dual problem men (batters with substance abuse problems) account for a large portion of violence against women. Though several studies have described the characteristics of batterers and others have described attributes of men with substance abuse problems, few have examined the characteristics of dual problem men. From the perspective of the social work practitioner, the more we know about dual problem men, the greater the likelihood of successfully matching interventions to the issues specific to that population. With this in mind, the primary purpose of the present study is to identify whether batters who have substance abuse problems have special needs or face challenges that are qualitatively different from batterers who do not have substance abuse problems.

Methods: A secondary analysis was conducted on data collected by the West Side Domestic Abuse Project in Chicago, Illinois in conjunction with Social Service Department of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The sample of 788 batterers adjudicated for domestic abuse in the Cook County court system was divided into two groups: 1) those with a substance abuse problem (dual problem men) and 2) those without a substance abuse problem (non-AOD batterers). Comparisons included severity of violence, level of psychological abuse and trauma symptomatology, as well as overall criminal history, and the propensity toward anger and psychopathology. Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) was utilized to assess the differences between the two groups.

Results: Data analysis indicated several significant differences between non-AOD batterers and dual problem men. For instance, dual problem men in the sample were more physically and psychologically abusive than the non-AOD batterer group. Also, dual problem men were more likely to be severely violent, even though they were not more likely to be arrested. In addition to being more violent, dual problem men tended to report higher levels of trauma and state-trait anger, as well as a greater propensity toward a borderline personality structure. Finally, dual problem men and their female partners were also more likely to use AOD during an incident of violence.

Implications: The results suggest that practitioners may need to consider additional issues when working with dual problem men. It may not be enough to simply address both the domestic violence and substance abuse. For instance, in addition to addressing substance abuse problems, practitioners may need to recognize the role that anger, characterological dysfunction and a history of trauma may play in both substance abuse and the perpetration of domestic violence for dual problem men and how these factors might interfere with their work with this population. These results also suggest that AOD may play a more prominent role in the violence of dual problem men than non-AOD batterers.