, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 265-293

Context for specific episodes of marital violence: Gender and severity of violence differences

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Abstract

The present study was designed to evaluate the context of marital violence through husbands' and wives' accounts of the worst violent episode in the year prior to assessment. The primary objective was to examine severity (mild or severe) and gender (husbands or wives) differences in reports of the worst episode of marital aggression using a functional analysis conceptualization. That is, within the specific episode, current stressors, setting events, outcome, and function of aggressive behavior(s) and victimization experiences were evaluated. Sixty-two couples, who presented for marital treatment over a three year period and also reported at least one episode of physical aggression in the past year, participated. In most cases, marital aggression appeared to reflect an outgrowth of conflict between both partners. However, wives consistently reported that their aggressive husbands had engaged in more psychological coercion and aggression than they as a marital conflict escalated to physical violence. Further, there was a tendency for wives to use severe physical aggression in self-defense more often than husbands.