Category: Couples / Close Relationships

Symposium

Classifying Situational From Characterological Intimate Partner Violence Using the CTS2 Plus Self-Defense

Saturday, November 18
1:45 PM - 3:15 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom I & J, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Intimate Partner Aggression | Assessment | Couples / Close Relationships
Presentation Type: Symposium

Most typologies of couples experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) tend to find one large subset of couples reporting low levels of mutual violence (situational violence) and another where there is unilateral violence where the perpetrator may have personality disorder features and power and control issues (characterological violence).  This study examines a modified version of the CTS2 (Straus et al., 1996) which assesses self-defense to see if it adds to the ability to distinguish situational from characterological violence in a community sample.


Community couples reporting IPV (N = 212) completed the CTS2 with the self-defense context items added. Men also completed measures of personality disorders and women reported on controlling behavior of themselves and their partners. First, the CTS2 subscales of women’s report of her male partners’ violence and men’s report of his female partner’s violence was entered into cluster analysis. The two group cluster solution was a poor fit, yielding 93.8% falling into Cluster 1 with no significant differences between the clusters due to lack of power. Next, the self-reported percentage of violence that was done in self-defense was added into the cluster analysis. This yielded a good fit with approximately 50% falling into each category.  More importantly, the two clusters differed on the variables hypothesized to differentiate situational from characterological violence. Using a MANOVA, men in Cluster 2 were higher domestic violence arrests (F(1,151) = 8.72, p = .004), antisocial personality (F(1,151) = 19.58, p < .001), borderline personality (F(1,151) = 23.22, p < .000),  and controlling behavior (F(1,151) = 11.29, p = .000) as compared to men in Cluster 1. Women in Cluster 1 but not Cluster 2 reported that they were slightly more violent than their partners, as is frequently found in survey data.


This study suggests that the CTS2, with the addition of consideration of self-defense items, can distinguish situationally violence from characterological violence in a community sample. Additional research is needed to test whether this simple assessment tool can capture the two types of violence in a criminal justice setting. If so, the modified CTS2 may work as a tool to triage people arrested for IPV into different types of treatments.

Alexandra L. Snead

Doctoral Student
University of Houston

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