There are no outward signs that provide clues as to who will become violent and who will not. The indicators are more subtle and rarely emerge at first sight. But when two people get romantically involved, they discover much about one another and for many, one of these discoveries is the propensity for violence.
Intimate partner violence is perpetrated in equal rates by men and by women. But because men are generally stronger than women, men inflict more injuries, use more violence, and cause more deaths from IPV. Research in this area has focused on adverse childhood experiences (ACE) as risk factors for IPV perpetration. ACEs cover a broad spectrum of childhood maltreatment and traumas. Although not all trauma survivors go on to develop posttraumatic stress (PTSD), some do. Heightened aggression of PTSD has also been shown to increase IPV perpetration.
In order to view these two factors through a different lens, Rachael M. Swopes of the Department of Psychology at the University of Tulsa recently led a study examining ACEs and PTSD in a sample of 108 men with a history of IPV perpetration. Swopes also looked at emotional intelligence (EI) to see if it affected IPV outcomes.
The results of Swopes’ study revealed that ACEs were related to PTSD and specifically, aggression from PTSD. Men with PTSD who had low levels of EI were more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors and initiate IPV than those with PTSD and high EI. Intuition also increased the likelihood of aggression when compared to reasoning. In other words, men who had hunches about something in their relationships were more likely to behave with violence than those who rationally evaluated their situation before acting on their feelings.
Swopes believes that her study extends the existing body of research on IPV and ACEs and show the importance of addressing PTSD symptoms in their earliest stages. She added, “Trauma-exposed IPV offenders may benefit from comprehensive treatments focusing on PTSD symptoms, emotional control, and reasoning skills to reduce aggression.”
Swopes, Rachael M., M.S., et al. (2013). Adverse childhood experiences, posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, and emotional intelligence in partner aggression. Violence and Victims 28.3 (2013): 513-30. ProQuest. Web.
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