Abstract: Expanding and Validating a Typology of IPV: Intersections of Violence and Control within Relationships (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

Expanding and Validating a Typology of IPV: Intersections of Violence and Control within Relationships

Friday, January 15, 2016: 6:15 PM
Ballroom Level-Congressional Hall A (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
* noted as presenting author
Annelise Mennicke, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC
Background and Purpose. Research finds that men and women perpetrate intimate partner violence (IPV) at similar rates (gender symmetry) and a large portion of IPV involves perpetration by both partners in a couple (bidirectional IPV). These findings have led to a debate about the dynamics of IPV, especially as it relates to the role of gender. A typology of IPV, which assumes that violence is used in relationships for multiple reasons, identifies different categories of IPV that occur within relationships, accounting for these empirical disparities. Using the couple as the unit of analysis, the purpose of this research was to explore the ways that violence and control intersect to create categories of IPV within a demographically diverse sample. Conceptualizing violence and control as separate but interacting behaviors, this research hypothesized four unique combinations of violence and control at the individual level, yielding 10 unique categories of IPV at the relationship level. It was further expected that these categories of IPV would not distribute equally between racial categories or genders.

Methods. A secondary analysis of data collected by Dutton, Goodman, and Schmidt (2006) was conducted. The original sample included 757 participants recruited from diverse locations (IPV agencies, social services agencies, and community settings), which was cleaned to yield a final sample of 714 participants (60% female, 51% Black). Individuals completed a survey, which included demographic questions and instruments assessing their own perpetration of and victimization by violence and control (including the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale, Psychological Maltreatment of Women Inventory, and Coercive Control Measure). Cluster analyses and chi-square tests of independence were used to test the hypotheses.

Results. Cluster analyses indicated that elements of IPV (control perpetration, control victimization, violence victimization and violence perpetration) all clustered into high/low patterns at the individual level within this economically and demographically disadvantaged sample. These patterns intersected to create 10 unique combinations of IPV at the relationship level, as hypothesized. However, several of the hypothesized categories had very low frequencies and were collapsed into conceptually and statistically congruent categories to yield a 7 category solution. These included 4 categories of IPV proposed by previous authors (e.g., Johnson; situational violence, violent resistance, intimate terrorism, and mutual coercive control), 2 control-related categories (situational control and control resistance), as well as a no-IPV category. Chi-square tests of independence indicated that distributions of these categories of IPV were dependent on gender but independent of race. Men reported relationships marked as situational control at rates higher than expected and intimate terrorism less than expected.

Conclusions. This research suggests that IPV is not a unitary phenomenon but is experienced differently within relationships. The majority of IPV was bidirectional, while several categories of IPV were control-related and gender was an important component of the typology. This typology provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the range of violent and controlling experiences within relationships. By doing so, social workers can utilize a common language to describe IPV within their clients, which can be used to guide the development and implementation of responsive treatment modalities.