Original Article

Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 24, Issue 8, pp 607-617

First online:

Proactive and Reactive Violence among Intimate Partner Violent Men Diagnosed with Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Jody M. RossAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne Email author 
  • , Julia C. BabcockAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Houston

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Personality disorder features have been an important basis of many batterer typologies (Babcock et al. J Fam Violence 15:391–409, 2000; Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart Psychol Bull 116:476–497, 1994), most notably Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders. Aggression that partner violent men commit has also been found to be heterogeneous, motivated by the need to control (proactive) or enacted out of emotion (reactive). In the present study, men who were physically abusive towards their female partner (N = 124 couples) were administered the SCID-II diagnostic interview for Antisocial (ASPD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It was hypothesized that partner violent men diagnosed with ASPD would show highest levels of proactive violence whereas men diagnosed with BPD (alone or comorbidly with ASPD) were expected to be reactively violent. Results suggest that violence perpetrated by men with different personality disorders differs in its function. Within the context of intimate relationships, BPD/comorbid men appear to use violence more reactively, while ASPD men tend to use violence both proactively and reactively. Implications for treatment are discussed.


Proactive violence Reactive violence Partner violence Personality disorders