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“I didn’t do it, but if I did I had a good reason”: Minimization, Denial, and Attributions of Blame Among Male and Female Domestic Violence Offenders

Abstract

Women are increasingly being arrested and prosecuted for assaulting an intimate partner. Whereas extensive research has been conducted to identify the treatment needs of male domestic violence offenders, few studies have examined females convicted of the same charges. In the present study 1,267 men and 159 women convicted of intimate partner abuse were compared on scales assessing attributions of blame for their recent offense, minimization, denial, and socially desirable responding. Research with male offenders has identified these factors as important treatment targets, as they appear to influence an offender’s risk for noncompliance and recidivism. The results of the study suggest that both male and female domestic violence offenders engage in socially desirable responding during court-ordered evaluations, that both attribute greater blame for the recent offense to their spouse/partner than they acknowledge for themselves, and that significant numbers of both genders deny the recent incident and/or minimize the severity of the offense. Areas for further research are highlighted along with a discussion of the implications of these findings for practitioners.

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Correspondence to Kris Henning.

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Henning, K., Jones, A.R. & Holdford, R. “I didn’t do it, but if I did I had a good reason”: Minimization, Denial, and Attributions of Blame Among Male and Female Domestic Violence Offenders. J Fam Viol 20, 131–139 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-005-3647-8

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Keywords

  • domestic violence
  • female offenders
  • attributions
  • cognitive distortions