< Characteristics of Male Abusers who were Court Ordered to Attend an Intervention Program

Characteristics of Male Abusers who were Court Ordered to Attend an Intervention Program

Katherine L. Applegate and Michael J. Marshall, West Liberty University

Domestic abuse is a serious national issue. There are at least nine different types of domestic abuse.  They include:

1. PHYSICAL ABUSE. This includes slapping, punching, choking, pulling hair, pushing, restraining, kicking, using weapons, throwing things, pressing or forcing sexual intercourse, and engaging in violent intercourse.
2. INTIMIDATION. This includes frightening someone by certain looks, gestures, or actions, smashing things, destroying personal property, harming pets, and displaying weapons.
3. EMOTIOTIONAL ABUSE. This includes name calling, insults, false accusations, jealousy, lying, manipulation, rage, playing “mind games,” and making one feel guilty or humiliated.
4. ISOLATION. This includes keeping someone from going where they choose, not allowing one to go to school, work, family home, friend’s home, listening to phone conversations, opening someone’s mail, following someone around, and persistent questioning of one’s whereabouts.
5. MINIMIZING, DENYING, AND BLAMING. This includes making light of the abuse, saying it did not happen, saying it is the victim’s fault, and rationalizing why the abuse occurred.
6. USING CHILDREN. This includes threatening the children if mate does not do what what the abuser says, making mate feel guilty about the children, using visitation to harass mate, and threatening to take the children away.
7. MALE PRIVILEGE. This includes treating your mate like a servant, acting like the “master of the castle,” making all the “big” decisions, and defining your mate’s role or job.
8. ECONOMIC ABUSE. This includes preventing your mate from working outside the home. Making him/her ask for money, and not letting your mate know about the family income.
9. COERCION AND THREATS. This includes threats to: take away the children, harm mate or mate’s family or friends, report mate to welfare, destroy mate’s property, commit suicide, and forcing mate to drop criminal charges, do something they do not want to do, or do something illegal.
     The better we understand the characteristics of abusers, the more likely we will be able to develop solutions.  Past research has revealed which variables tend to be most associated with male abusers. They are age, income level, having been abused as a child, having witnessed and abuse between parents as a child, violence in previous relationships, alcohol use, the presence of an alcoholic parent in the family of origin, educational level, criminal record, receiving mental health services, and an unsatisfactory home life due to substance abuse.  This study used a hierarchical regression analysis to test which variables were most predictive of each of the nine types of domestic abuse in a sample of 93 males in the Upper Ohio Valley.
     Results showed that physical abuse was predicted by all the above male characterics found in past research. None of these male characteristics however, were associated with economic abuse in this study.  Most of the male characteristics were associated with the other seven types of abuse.
     A regression analysis was conducted to determine which of the male characteristics were most predictive of male abusers when all the types of abuse were lumped together. Forty-four percent of the abuse was explained by four main male characteristics. They were, an unhappy home life due to drinking, age, using alcohol, and having committed violence in previous relationships. This is not surprising since alcohol is a well known contributor to domestic abuse. Previous violence in relationships is also a well known predictor of abuse. Augenstein and Ehrlich (1992) found that up to two-thirds of men in treatment for domestic violence had been violent with at least one past partner. Finally, the age variable may be explained by its correlation with an antisocial personality disorder. Antisocials abuse their partners more due to their desire for power over others, focus on meeting their own selfish needs at the expense of others, and lack of empathy for others’ suffering.  The only cure for antisocials is time. Their antisocial behaviors tend to diminish in their 40s. Hence, the age correlation. Male abusers tend to reduce their abusive behavior as they get older, along with a general decline in all their other antisocial behaviors.
     A better understanding of abusive partners, both male and female, will hopefully increase the success rate of treatment programs. Also, research on each of the nine subtypes of abuse may help to better match each type of abuser with the most appropriate treatment program.