Antisocial personalities and dating
First, scholars are increasingly asserting that violence in relationships needs to be considered within the larger context of interpersonal violence and that focusing our attention on correlates and motives known to predict general violence can inform our understanding of violence between intimate partners (Dutton, 1994; Dutton & Nicholls, in press; Felson, 2002).In direct contrast to the traditional radical feminist perspective, the emerging generation of research literature asserts that partner abuse reflects intimacy, interpersonal conflict, psychopathology, and demographic and psychosocial correlates common to other areas of criminology and forensic psychology (e.g., prior antisocial and violent behaviors) (Dutton & Nicholls, in press; Ehrensaft, Moffitt, & Caspi, 2004; Felson, 2002).This is especially so for younger “cohort” community samples followed longitudinally.Predictors of intimate violence with women appear to be similar to those of men; including antisocial criminal records, alcohol abuse, and personality disorders.It is against this backdrop that we will examine women’s use of abuse in intimate relationships and begin exploring the treatment needs of women who engage in abuse against their partners.ABUSE PERPETRATED BY WOMEN AGAINST MALE INTIMATE PARTNERS There is no shortage of discussion in the literature regarding the controversial issues of who hits first, who hits more often, and who presents a real threat of harm to their partners, men or women?Twenty-nine percent reported that they had been the victims of severe violence (e.g., kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, had a gun or knife used against them).
As anticipated, results from the CTS2 (Straus, Hamby, Boney-Mc Coy, & Sugarman, 1996) indicated lifetime victimization and perpetration of abuse in intimate relationships among undergraduates was common and differed little by the gender of the respondent.The results indicated no significant differences in men’s and women’s reported perpetration and victimization rates; 14% of men and 18% of women in their sample engaged in physical violence against a date; 10% of men and 14% of women reported having been physically assaulted by a date.Thompson (1991) provided data from a sample of 336 undergraduates, which further indicated that physical aggression in dating relationships is not gender specific.Compared to the extensive literature on male perpetrators of intimate abuse (Dutton, 2002; Hamberger & Hastings, 1991; Holtzworth Munroe, Bates, Smutzler, & Sandin, 1997, inter alia), the literature on female perpetrators is scant.
Although it has long been recognized that North American women and men are equally likely to be the perpetrators or the victims of intimate abuse (Steinmetz, 1977; Straus & Gelles, 1992), in large part, this knowledge has been prevented from influencing public policy and informing interventions for couples coping with violence in their relationships.
Of the women, 21% reported they had perpetrated abuse and, of those, 82% also had been victimized.