Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Domestic violence: New research focuses on treatment for perpetrator, not victim

Date:
July 31, 2012
Source:
University of Houston
Summary:
A new experiment takes an unconventional look at the treatment for domestic violence, otherwise known as intimate partner violence (IPV), by focusing on changing the perpetrators' psychological abuse during arguments rather than addressing his sexist beliefs.

A new University of Houston (UH) experiment takes an unconventional look at the treatment for domestic violence, otherwise known as intimate partner violence (IPV), by focusing on changing the perpetrators' psychological abuse during arguments rather than addressing his sexist beliefs.

"There is a lot of research that studies the victim of intimate partner violence, but not the perpetrator," said Julia Babcock, an associate professor in the department of psychology and co-director of the Center for Couples Therapy, a clinical research center at UH that offers therapy for couples. "The predominant model for IPV intervention is based on what was gleaned from women in battered women shelters and focuses on men's patriarchal attitudes about power and control. Since most domestic violence occurs in the context of an argument, the experiment I conducted evaluated whether I could change how the communication goes during an argument with the batterer and his partner. The findings indicated the batterers could learn communications skills and when they applied them in an argument with their female partners, the argument improved and the participants felt better about the argument and more understood."

Babcock notes this research is significant in that it breaks new ground in applying experiments to domestic violence and may improve batterers' intervention programs. In a review of the research studies on the efficacy of batterers' intervention programs, Babcock found the results disappointing. There was a small change when a perpetrator completed a batterers intervention program and only a 5 percent reduction rate in repeat offenses. "There is definitely a need to improve batterers' intervention programs, since research suggests that they're largely ineffective, but frequently prescribed by courts as a remedy for convicted IPV perpetrators," said Babcock. Babcock's research focuses on male batterers because men are the perpetrators in about 85 percent of the abuse cases, and women are 10 times more likely to be murdered by an intimate than are men.

By listing an advertisement in local papers that said, "couples experiencing conflict," the research team recruited 120 couples in the Houston area qualified for the experiment. Candidates for the study were screened over the telephone to make sure they met criteria. To meet the criteria to participate in the study, two acts of violence had to occur in the last year that might include: pushing, shoving, choking, using a weapon or a beating. If there was no physical abuse, but the couple scored low for marital satisfaction, Babcock included them as a comparison group.

The couples were then invited to participate in an experiment in the "Emotions in Marriage Lab," where the research team observed a couple in a 15-minute argument. Both male and female partner were connected to monitors to measure heart rate, respiration, skin conductance, movement, pulse, transit time of blood flow from the periphery to the heart, skin temperature while affect (such as anger, contempt, fear, disgust, etc.) was noted. Midway during the 15-minute argument, the researchers interrupted the argument at 7½ minutes and randomly assigned the male batterer to one of three conditions: 1) a time out; 2) a request to edit out the negative, where he makes the same points in a more neutral fashion; or, 3) a request to accept influence, where he listens to the female's ideas, trusts that the partner may be right and validates her idea even if his idea is different. The male batterer was taught these communication skills then asked to use them in the second half of the argument.

"What we found is that the interventions worked to make the second half of the argument better," said Babcock. "Batterers could learn these communication skills and when they applied them in arguments with their female partner, it decreased aggressive attacks on the female partner, contemptuous behavior, criticism and put downs in both the woman and the man. The idea is that reducing such psychological abuse may reduce intimate partner violence. Whereas most therapies are built top down from theory, the new technology allows us to build a therapy package--technique by technique--from the lab up."

Babcock's article based on this UH experiment, "A Proximal Change Experiment Testing Two Communication Exercises with Intimate Partner Violent Men," won the "Best of 2011 Violence Research" award for the most exemplary research being conducted on violence and aggression. Five senior researchers convened by the Psychology of Violence Journal selected articles they believe have the potential to advance the field and direct the future research on violence.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Houston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Houston. "Domestic violence: New research focuses on treatment for perpetrator, not victim." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731094751.htm>.
University of Houston. (2012, July 31). Domestic violence: New research focuses on treatment for perpetrator, not victim. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731094751.htm
University of Houston. "Domestic violence: New research focuses on treatment for perpetrator, not victim." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731094751.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins