Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

17457 Testing the Structural Factors of the Propensity to Abuse Scale with Females Respondents Adjudicated for Criminal Domestic Violence

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 2:30 PM
Latrobe (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Carl D. Maas, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Susanne Swan, PhD, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Lindsay Hilger, BSW, MSW Candidate, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Peter Warren, MA, PhD Candidate, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Sara Barber, MA, Executive Director, Domestic Abuse Center, Columbia, SC
Purpose: Since the early 2000's there has been a dramatic increase in the arrest of women for perpetrating intimate partner violence (IPV) (Rajah, 2006; Stuart, 2006). Mandatory arrest laws are thought to be the main factor increasing the number of women arrested for IPV (Rajah, 2006). Along with increased arrests, batterer intervention programs (BIPs) across the country have seen a marked increase in female clients (Tutty, et al., 2008). Traditionally, BIPs use a variety of measurement tools to determine the level of abusiveness and coercion that clients exhibit, as well as to determine client change (Buttell & Carney, 2005; Carney & Buttell, 2006; Winters, Clift, & Dutton, 2004). Specifically, the Propensity for Abusiveness Scale (PAS) is used to determine the level of abusiveness clients exhibit and is used to predict future IPV perpetration (Dutton, 1995; Dutton & Kropp, 2000; Dutton, Landolt, Starzomski, & Bodnarchuk, 2001; Simmons, Lehmann, & Cobb, 2008). While a few studies have used the PAS with male and female samples, the PAS has not been normed in terms of validity and reliability with an adjudicated female population.

Methods: The study includes 650 female participants who were arrested for criminal domestic violence perpetration and court ordered to treatment through a local BIP provider located in the Southeastern United States. The participant population mirrored the general population of the state, e.g. 59.1% Caucasian; 99.7% speak English; 68.4% HS graduation; 58% part and full-time employed, 53.2% married or living together; and 73.4% have children. Unlike the general population, 38.4% of the clients have a criminal history and 51.8% reported adverse childhood experiences. T tests, exploratory and confirmatory analyses were conducted to determine if the female responses mirrored the same structural factors as Dutton (1995) found in male responses.

Results: The mean score on the PAS was 67.82 (SE = 21.39), which is significantly higher than Dutton's (1995) reported score for non-assaulting controls (t(681) 6.1406, p < .001; r = .23) and even higher than those who assaulted their spouses (t(711) 2.004, p < .05; r = .08). An exploratory factor analysis was conducted, and we found that an eight factor model was significantly more robust (X2(489) 1857.56, p < .001; CFI = .91; TLI = .87; RMSEA = .066) (Hu & Bentler, 1995) in the female sample than a 3 factor model (X2(627) 4050.94; p < .001; CFI = .78; TLI = .74; RMSEA = .092) suggested by Dutton's (1995) male sample. Confirmatory factor analyzes (CFA) were conducted testing an 8, 7, 6, 4, and 3 factor models. None of the models were robust, e.g. 3 factor model statistics (X2(699) 5926.42; p < .001; CFI = .63; TLI = .61; RMSEA = .11).

Implications: These findings raise significant concerns about assessment tools used with females receiving services through batterer intervention programs. Assessment tools originally developed for men may not be applicable to female populations that are increasing being arrested and mandated to batter intervention treatment.

<< Previous Abstract | Next Abstract