Psychologists Examine Role Of Control In Domestic Violence
Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan from the University of Lancaster compared the controlling behaviours of men and women perpetrators and victims of domestic violence from new data from the UK, the USA and Mozambique.
Dr Graham-Kevan said: "We wanted to find out whether men's use of controlling behaviour within a relationship is different to women's. This is important as the current treatment approach in the UK is based upon the premise that men use control as a means of enforcing male supremacy over women. If women are using controlling behaviours in similar ways to men then this undermines such an approach."
Male and female domestic violence perpetrator reports of controlling behaviour across samples from the UK (36 men and 50 women), and the USA (231 men and 184 women) were compared. The results found that the controlling behaviour of men and women were very similar.
"Men and women perpetrators of domestic violence were found to have very similar levels of financial control, sexual control and intimidation in relationships. This leads us to believe that we can't only attribute controlling behaviour to men."
In a further sample of 1,442 female victims of domestic violence in Mozambique it was found that 10 per cent of the female victims had hit out first during the violent episode. These women were found to be high in levels of a variety of controlling behaviours including intimidation and financial control as well aggression towards their male partners. These more controlling and aggressive women were also on the receiving end of worse levels of violence.
"It seems that once a punch is thrown, whether it is from the man or the woman, then all acceptable behaviour goes out of the window," continued Dr Graham-Kevan.
"The results of this study tell us that we need to challenge some of the assumptions around domestic violence if we are to really tackle the issue and develop programmes that prevent continued violence, one such assumption is that controlling behaviour in relationships is unique to men."
British Psychological Society
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