Method: This study is a secondary analysis of data drawn from a survey of Army spouses conducted as part of the Land Combat Study by Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in 2012. The sample consists of 319 military spouses (female 97% , white 75%, enlisted 78%). Recent life stressors were measured with five items from the Social Readjustment Rating scale (Holmes & Rahes, 1967). Marital discord was measure with ten items from Marital Taxon Screen (Whisman et al., 2009). Work-family conflict was measured with five items from work-family conflict scale (Netemeyer et al., 1996). Aggressive behavior was measured with five items from WRAIR Aggression Scale (Killgore et al., 2008; Thomas et al., 2010; Wright et al., 2013) and IPV was measured with five items (Heyman et al., 2013). To examine direct and indirect effects, a path analysis with robust maximum likelihood estimation was conducted using Mplus version 7.
Results: After controlling for covariates (including gender, race, rank, household size, age, living distance from military installation), recent life stressors were positively associated with IPV (b=0.547, p<.05), marital discord was positively associated with IPV (b=0.294, p<.01), and aggressive behavior was positively associated with IPV (b=3.927, p<.001). The direct effect of marital discord on aggressive behavior was significant; marital discord was positively associated with aggressive behavior (b=0.068, p<.001). The path model demonstrated a significant indirect effect of marital discord on IPV via aggressive behavior (b=0.267, p<.001).
Conclusions and Implications:
Study findings suggest that recent life stressors, marital discord, and aggressive behavior were associated with higher levels of IPV among military spouse batterers. The pathway of stressors impacting IPV might differ depending on the sources of stress. Recent life stressors might be a sudden stressor that directly impact IPV while marital discord might either directly or indirectly impact IPV among military spouses. Therefore, the Family Advocacy Program, military social work practitioners, and other behavioral health providers should consider sources of stress and provide support to military spouses that is specifically tailored to these stressors. Furthermore, considering the mediating role of aggressive behavior in the relationship between marital discord and IPV, programs to address aggression might be helpful to reduce IPV among military spouse batterers.