Journal of Family Violence

, 20:201 | Cite as

Change in Self-Esteem and Physical Aggression During Treatment for Partner Violent Men

  • Christopher M. Murphy
  • Steven Stosny
  • Tanya M. Morrel


The role of low self-esteem in aggressive behavior has been questioned by theorists who claim that inflated, rather than deflated, self-esteem is associated with violence, and that societal efforts to increase self-esteem may actually increase, rather than decrease, violent behavior. This conjecture was tested in two treatment samples of partner violent men, one (n = 61) that received a behavioral intervention, and one (n = 107) that received a workshop program designed to enhance compassion for self and others. Both samples reported significant reductions in relationship violence perpetration and significant increases in self-esteem from pre- to post-treatment. In both samples, change in self-esteem was inversely correlated with change in physical aggression. Follow-up data from victims were available for one of the samples, and revealed that self-esteem and its enhancement during treatment did not significantly predict relationship violence during the year after treatment. These results indicate that self-esteem enhancement during treatment for partner violent men is correlated with violence reduction, and does not increase the risk for subsequent relationship aggression.


self-esteem partner violence treatment abuse 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher M. Murphy
    • 1
    • 3
  • Steven Stosny
    • 2
  • Tanya M. Morrel
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MarylandBaltimore
  2. 2.CompassionPowerGaithersburg
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MarylandBaltimore

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