Abstract||This study addressed substantial limitations in the literature pertaining to intimate partner violence (IPV). In particular, I addressed the gender symmetry debate, and identified factors associated with the dynamics of violent relationships by examining the correlates related to perpetrating and suffering IPV for both men and women. Finally, I examined attitudes towards IPV, communication behaviour, and conflict management techniques as a function of abuse history. Participants were recruited from three samples of the New Zealand population (student, general, and incarcerated). The inclusion of an incarcerated sample enabled the examination of more severe, frequent and injurious violence than is typically experienced within the student and general samples.
There were three phases to the study. The first phase explored incidence rates and psychological correlates of IPV. As expected, the incidence of IPV was highest within the incarcerated sample (Chapter 5). Of greater significance, the incidence of IPV was similar for males and females, with the majority of violence being bi-directional (Chapters 4 & 5). Moreover, the psychological correlates associated with IPV were similar for perpetrators and victims, and males and females (Chapters 4 & 5).
Due to the bi-directional nature of IPV, analyses presented in Chapters 4 and 5 were limited by the categorisation of participants as both perpetrators and victims. In Chapter 6, I overcame this limitation. The attitudes of victims were examined separately to individuals experiencing bi-directional violence. Validating the findings of Chapters 4 and 5, the attitudes and behaviours of victims and perpetrators were similar. These included being more hostile and negative towards others and onesí partner, being more controlling, and reporting more communication problems. I also further explored gender symmetry in IPV. Male and female IPV was found to be similar in frequency, severity, and similarly associated with control. However, the type of acts perpetrated differed across gender.
During the second and third phase of the study, I further examined participantsí communication behaviour (Chapter 7), conflict behaviour, and attitudes (Chapter 8). Findings revealed that perpetrators and victims employed less facilitative and polite linguistic devices (Chapter 7) and reported fewer skills for dealing with conflict (Chapter 8) than did other individuals. An examination of attitudes towards IPV revealed males and females had similar attitudes and were more condoning of female, than male-perpetrated IPV. Moreover, individuals with a history of IPV were the most condoning of violence. Additionally, a number of correlates associated with experiencing IPV were also associated with attitudes condoning IPV (Chapter 8).
Overall, the findings revealed IPV to be bi-directional and gender symmetrical. Male and female IPV was similar in incidence, severity, and injury. Furthermore, the psychological correlates associated with IPV were similar for men and women, and perpetrators and victims. Individuals with a history of IPV were more controlling, hostile towards others, more condoning of IPV, employed less positive communication styles, and lacked skills for dealing with conflict. In light of these findings, suggestions are offered for violence prevention initiatives in the discussion sections of each chapter and in the final chapter (Chapter 9).