Abstract: Using an Expanded Model of Trauma in Predicting Male Intimate Partner Violence (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

Using an Expanded Model of Trauma in Predicting Male Intimate Partner Violence

Thursday, January 17, 2019: 1:30 PM
Union Square 2 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Ohad Gilbar, Phd. Candidate, External lecturer, Bar-Ilan university, Tel-Aviv, Israel
Rachel Dekel, Professor, Full Professor, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Background and Purpose: The trauma theory suggests that childhood traumatic events may be linked to psychological distress such as PTSD, potentially leading to a deficit in social information processing which is associated with impulsive violent behavior. Nevertheless, the models based on this theory lack a comprehensive psychological and social perspective that might serve to broaden our understanding of the complicated pathways that lead from childhood trauma to PTSD and then to IPV: that is, disturbances in self organization (DSO), male dominance over the female partner, and the effects of socialized gender roles on men's feelings. The current study therefore explored, on the basis of the trauma perspective, a comprehensive model. This model suggests that the effects of childhood trauma resulting in IPV begin with PTSD distress and progress to more complex psychological distress such as DSO. In addition, such PTSD distress may cause gender role conflict-related emotional restrictiveness, which may arise from gender conflict expectations among men when they experience deep emotional pain.  Finally, the model suggests that the feelings of helplessness that come from PTSD also bring about the need to dominate the partner – a well-known characteristic among this population. In the current study we examined how this combined model might contribute to predict the variance in the frequency of IPV perpetration.

Methods: Participants were 234 men drawn randomly from a national sample of 1,600 men receiving treatment from 30 domestic violence centers in Israel. They completed the: Conflict Tactics Scale short form (CTS2S) for IPV,  Life Events Checklist questionnaire (LEC),  International Trauma Questionnaire (ITQ) for PTSD and DSO, dominance scale (DOM),  and  Gender Role Conflict scale short form (GRCS-SF).

Results:  Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) findings revealed the central role of DSO and dominance in examining all of the new theoretical aspects in the trauma model. The results indicated an indirect association between exposure to physical neglect in childhood and physical IPV, through PTSD and then dominance (b = .08*, SD = .02). In addition, there was an indirect association between exposure to violence in childhood and psychological IPV, through PTSD and then DSO (b =.14*, SD = .05). We found no significant indirect effect for the association between exposure to violence and physical neglect in childhood and physical and psychological IPV through GRC-emotional restrictiveness.  

Conclusions and Implications:  These findings add to the discussion regarding the theoretical explanation of the intergenerational transmission of violence.  Specifically, they shed light on the consequences of child abuse and neglect through complex psychological distress; they also illuminate the effects of PTSD on a man's dominance over his partner as manifested by male-perpetrated IPV. The results of the current study support the need to screen for traumatic experiences, PTSD and the resultant DSO, and dominance among this population, and to employ trauma-based techniques. Specifically, this research supports the call for and further implementation of trauma-informed intervention, focusing on the ways in which DSO and dominance are connected to the trauma experience.