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Identification of characteristics and patterns of male domestic partner abusers

Abstract

This is a report on a project partially funded by the Criminology Research Council. The original title of the research project, in the name of Jeffrey Colin Richards and Angus MacLachlan, was 'Identification of characteristics and patterns of male domestic partner abusers'. One hundred men identified as domestic partner abusers were recruited in regional Victoria, and assessed on a range of variables before participating in a men's behaviour change program. The 100 men were partitioned into two types based on heart rate responses when participating in an analogue domestic conflict situation, and three groups based on the additional measures of blood pressures and oxygen saturations. Type 1 men were more assaultive, verbally aggressive and held stronger sexist attitudes than Type 2 men. They were also more impulsive and more disinhibited and so resembled a sociopathic profile. Following participation in the men's behaviour change program, 30 of the men were reassessed, and 14 of these were again assessed at six months' follow up. Participation was associated with reductions in levels of anger, and apparent reductions in assaultiveness and indirect and verbal aggression; however the men already identified as exhibiting sociopathic like characteristics evidenced more cynical hostility and stronger sexist attitudes after participation in the program. Interviews with 14 women after their partners had participated in the program confirmed that participation produced variable results, and did not have universal beneficial effects. The report concludes that the men's behaviour change program was useful for many male domestic partner abusers, but that other options need also to be considered for men with the identified characteristics. (Author abstract, edited).

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