James D Brown Oral Defense Presentation

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  • Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.\nBut I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, \nSo the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also. \nAnd as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, \nSo the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all. \nLike a procession you walk together towards your god-self. \nYou are the way and the wayfarers.\nKahlil Gibran: The Prophet—On Crime and Punishment\n\n
  • The issue of domestic violence seems to be pervasive and dire in American society, however a brief review of the literature shows that researchers are unsure if current methods of intervention are having a significant impact on the problem. Hillman (2004) wrote that if a researcher’s tools of discovery fail to bring understanding of a phenomenon, they must first investigate the faultiness of the tools in an effort to re-imagine the situation. “According to Einstein, problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them” (p. 5). The basic layer of the mind is poetic, mythic not causal—formed by archetypal patterns of imagination. Bringing fresh psychological theories into dialogue with each other regarding domestic violence may provide a new and possibly more effective way of informing ourselves as researchers about the issue of domestic violence and the types of interventions that could potentially apply. \n\nThe Research Question\n\nA specific California penal code establishes punishment guidelines for convicted DV perpetrators and defines batterer group guidelines. This code partially reads, “the goal of a batterer's program under this section shall be to stop domestic violence.” If we as researchers are to take this goal at face value, then I am curious about the ways we as a society can most effectively achieve the goal of ending domestic violence. What role does intervention as it exists now play in stopping domestic violence? What other possibilities are relevant to furthering progress toward the aim of ending domestic violence in communities? How could alternative perspectives on domestic violence that incorporate depth psychologically influenced theories inform or influence our approaches to domestic violence interventions?\n\nI work in this dissertation with a depth psychological perspective that looks for possibly hidden or obscured meanings in relationship violence. The hope is that this expidition will strengthen understanding of conflict in the domestic violence dyad and help to re-imagine the tools that are used for interventions.\n\n
  • As a starting point, this dissertation looks at three primary areas of literature:\n\nDomestic Violence\nThere is a moderate body of literature outlining the ways in which different theoretical perspectives elucidate domestic violence intervention, but little information on how those theoretical perspectives might inform a paradigm of preventative measures focused on creating, promoting, and maintaining a state of relational health for couples and families. This is especially true when one moves the theoretical horizon outside the purview of the criminal justice system to which domestic violence intervention has been yoked.\n\nDutton wrote that broadening the target foci of treatment by addressing the “infrastructure aspects of abusiveness” such as attachment insecurity, abandonment reactivity, AOD addiction, trauma symptoms, and exposure to early developmental stage abusiveness could further strengthen treatment efficacy. The literature shows that the most serious recidivists are often career criminals and would probably benefit the least from therapy. In contrast, those that might benefit most from therapy are the least likely to re-offend. These findings illustrate the primary disconnect between what is needed for effectiveness and what is actually the practice.\n\nAttachment\nOne emerging area of dialogue and literature is in the field of attachment theory and its application to domestic violence. In particular, there seems to be a growing interest in how a developmental theory like relationship attachment might impact both intervention and prevention tactics within the field of domestic violence. Sonkin as example believes that laws based solely on a socio-political framework that equate family violence with oppressive power and control remain largely ignorant of newer theoretical models that utilize recent developments in neuroscience and evidence in developmental psychology. These models often strongly contradict the pervasive gender-based social models that view spousal assault as primarily focused against women and as generated by patriarchal social structural conditions as a means of maintaining male advantage. Dutton provided evidence that many problems previously linked to power and control issues can often times be linked to problems of early relationship development that become further exacerbated in the psychology of perpetrators through interaction with abusive role models in their early life and through social conditioning into a “masculine role” that is strongly influential and largely beyond the ability of individuals to personally control. Stosny wrote that an individual’s style of being in relationship harkens back to their earliest learned forms of attachment where the desire for autonomy through individuation conflicts with the connection-seeking behavior to form the “grand ambivalence of human nature. The emotional demands of attachment, in other words, threaten autonomy as autonomy threatens secure attachment. Attachment abusers, who use the attachment bond as an instrument of control and harm, are often torn apart by the opposite drives of autonomy and attachment. One relevant aspect of a developmental approach to the discussion of domestic violence is the contention of attachment researchers that adults manifest attachment styles in their relationships primarily based on their attachment history. Kesner and McKenry suggested “internal models of attachment relationships are operationalized in adult attachment styles which represent characteristic ways of thinking about intimate relationships.” Attachments are implicit emotional, cognitive, and behavioral memories defining for each individual the patterns and internal working models of self and others that help to regulate intense negative and positive affect through either a flexible approach to dyadic and self soothing (secure attachment) or by rigid proximity seeking and avoidant behaviors (insecure attachment). \n\nDepth Psychology\nDepth psychologists take the point of view that much of mental life influencing thoughts, feelings, motives, and actions is unconscious and that—as a result—people may behave in ways or develop psychological symptoms that they are unable to easily explain. depth psychologists often challenge the structure of our ways of rehabilitation by asserting that the primary focus of such programs is to approach diversity from a solely corrective standpoint that seeks to normalize a person to a set of standard, dominant behaviors rather than approach from an appreciative stance that recognizes “deviance” or other difficulties as possibly meaningful expressions of personal and collective social problems framing an individual’s perceptions and surrounding environment. One can imagine that domestic violence is such a meaningful cultural expression due to its ubiquity and persistence. Just as attachment theory posits a connection-seeking developmental behavior that serves to regulate affect in the individual, depth psychology imagines the autonomy seeking process of individuation as being in service to the full realization of Self. Anderson and Sabetelli stated that individuation measures related to early development are often incorrectly grounded in the assumption that individuation is reflected only in autonomy and not in an age-appropriate balance between autonomy and intimacy. They attempt to present a conceptual framework for disentangling the concepts of individuation and differentiation by defining the former as an individual developmental process and the latter as a family-level variable dealing with patterns of distance regulation within the family. They then show how patterns of distance regulation are encoded through family interactions as a means of intergenerational transmission. Goldner wrote that work on abusive relationships requires the creation of a transitional space between public and private where people can tell, retell, and rework their traumatic narratives from multiple perspective; “bearing witness to injustices large and small so as to name and dignify the suffering that had to be endured alone—in silence and without social recognition.”\n\n
  • This dissertation seeks to re-imagine intervention and intervention programs as they relate to domestic violence offenders by applying a depth psychological and hermeneutic lens to the field of intimate partner violence research. This dissertation takes a critical look at current theory driving the batterer intervention program (BIP) used as a primary intervention for domestic violence. It proposes possible alternative or under-represented perspectives suggested from the literature that may support refinement or substitution of current practices within the field of domestic violence intervention that are partially based on the most current thinking in developmental and analytical psychology. Most importantly, this dissertation seeks to broaden conventional theoretical perspectives on domestic violence by engaging a critical-hermeneutic methodology throughout as a means of putting forward possible pathways for more intensive future inquiry.\n\nThe dissertation achieves this goal by:\nTaking a critical look at current theory driving intervention\nIdentifying alternative or under-represented perspectives\nBroadening conventional theoretical perspectives of Relationship Violence\nand Re-imagining intervention and intervention practices\n
  • The methodological approach of this dissertation based on traditions of depth psychology and critical hermeneutics. The intention is to provide a framework for parsing and deconstructing sources used in this dissertation so that the sources might reveal implicit findings that may otherwise be obscured in their explicit framing and conclusions. The task is to produce a method for coaxing out hidden associations as a means of elucidating not invalidating the selected artificats of discovery and in so doing, expand consciousness of the dissertation topic.\n\nResearch from a depth psychological perspective implies more than the careful observation, understanding, and interpretation of events and text be they written, spoken, or acted out. The researcher, through which data is gathered, becomes in a sense the medium of interpretation and delivery of the final product. Depth psychologically oriented research acknowledges that much activity of thought takes place unconsciously, where meanings become linked to complexes of significance and are the culmination of individual experience or archetypal influences within a structure rife with intrapsychic conflict both personal and socially constructed. Hunt (1989) thought of the encounter between the researcher and subject as itself a scripted text with its own meaning. As such, transference, affect, fantasy, and the varied content of the unconscious become players in the research process.\n\nPhilosophical assumptions are the mark of all qualitatively driven studies in addition to an ideological perspective that is largely based on personal concerns and desires for affecting the needs of specific populations or instigating some form of social change. It is this additional element of social action oriented results that distinguishes critical methods in qualitative inquiry and encourages approaches to a subject that are participatory in nature.\n\nThe focus of critical theory is on any distortion of a philosophical norm. As such, “not only does the theory criticize current society, it also envisages a fairer, less alienated, more democratic world.” However, one must also concede when premising a critical theory that the “verification of the theory is impossible until the social vision it inspires is realized” (p. 29). To that end, the theorist is obliged to proceed as if ideal solutions are both present and possible even if not immediately achievable.\n\nFor philosophers like Ricoeur, being human, or Dasein in the thought of Heidegger, is disclosed through the very act of interpretation. Being is constituted in the process of reflection upon text, symbols, objects, and acts. Objects of interpretation thus become references through which potential of being are revealed. Reflection in the pursuit of hermeneutical action and based on a critical approach is initially suspicious of external manifestations recognizing that many potentials of being remain beyond conscious perception. Meanings become disclosed through corrective critique and the demystification of unconscious content that often presents itself in disguised or distorted ways. Heraclitus said, “Things love to keep their secrets.” He also said, mindfulness, of all things, is the ground of being, to speak one’s true mind, and to keep things known in common, serves all being. As a method of interpretation, one assumes that the literal or surface–level meaning of a text is an effort to conceal the interests that are served by the text. Interpretation unmasks those interests and unveils any shaky claims based upon them.\n\nIt is both the aspects of knowledge and action together that determine human interests according to Habermas. Where knowledge and action are directed toward activities of control, they have the potential to distort and repress; where they are directed toward the activity of reflection, they are potentially emancipative. Likewise, self-reflection is a movement of emancipation that “changes a life.” “It is in accomplishing self-reflection that reason grasps itself as interested” and it is in the mode of the experience of self-reflection as method of being that the fundamental connection of knowledge and interest is ascertained along with the derived knowledge-constitutive interests constructing human affairs. It is also in the process of self-reflection that knowledge and interest are consciously unified. “The unity of knowledge and interest,” wrote Habermas, “proves itself in a dialectic that takes the historical traces of suppressed dialogue and reconstructs what has been repressed.” \n\nInterpretation allows for the working out of possibilities brought forth from one’s concern, from one’s caring, embodied as the fore-structure brought as an initial stance or perspective to the issue. Since pre-understandings are based partially on suppressed internal factors projected upon the actions or text of interest, the initial stance is always one of caring and the resultant discourse from the encounter is based upon what Ricœur called a semantics of desire.\n\nAs with a psychoanalytic discourse, this type of depth-hermeneutics intermingles questions of meaning exposed by repressed symbols and their manifest symptoms, with questions of force that energize emerging conflict. The resultant discourse binds force and meaning in a fashion that is “appropriate to the reality which it wishes to take into account” and reflects in its semantics the subject of its care. Heidegger asserted that the single primordial unitary phenomenon providing our ontological foundation of Being reveals itself as care (Sorge). Untangling the force relations of hidden, often unintelligible meanings from the apparent requires a move of reflection, critique, and interpretation. \n\nEric Craig provided a marvelous description of the complimentary relationship between depth psychology and a critical hermeneutics of depth in his concise paper Hermeneutic Inquiry in Depth Psychology (2007). As evidenced by care and the existential expression of fore-structure, he wrote, “we exist from the beginning as already in relation to the world, already involved in useful and meaningful world projects, . . . already partially or vaguely informed about what we would like to know” (p. 311). In the words of Heidegger: Dasein’s everydayness can be defined as ‘Being-in-the-world which is falling and disclosed, thrown and projecting, and for which its ownmost potentiality-for-Being is an issue, both in its Being alongside the ‘world’ and in its ‘Being-with Others.’\nRicœur wrote that consciousness is not a given, but a task and that it may immediately involve a type of certainty about the world, but this certainty does not constitute true self-knowledge. Craig said that researchers co-implicated with their subject of inquiry as they are drawn back self-reflectively with their subject into the horizon from which both they and the phenomenon they encounter initially arise. What comes forth in terms of new clearings and expanded consciousness is an artifact from the encounter—a co-creation of all parties whose modes of knowing, far from being ideal, are often ambiguous, figurative, and/or metaphorical. The essential claim of depth psychology is that there is much about being human that remains hidden to the eye, indeed, even to thought at all. Whether these secrets are “down there,” “out there,” or “in there,” seems not to matter as much, theoretically or clinically, as the indisputable reality that such ontological secrecy exists, not only in the human but in everything that is. Thus, for me, depth psychology is simply that kind of psychology that takes seriously the invisible, the secret, the unthought, and, even, the unthinkable and unspeakable. Depth psychology is nothing other than a psychology of the invisible, a psychology of the secret, a psychology of concealment as such. (Craig, 2007, pp. 316-317)\n\nCheetham wrote, We must descend fully into the real, messy world, and not stop short of the real individuals who make it up. The real Hermes, the one that does real work, breaks down barriers all right, but not like a bulldozer, leaving behind an empty, conquered landscape. When this Hermes is at work there is a tinge of real fear in the air, because behind the barriers He dismantles we can see the outlines of the Faces of the Others. Then we must consider the proffered opportunity: whether to accept them into our house, or whether to refuse the Feast. These Others come to us as persons: mothers, fathers, lovers, strangers; as angels and demons, as complexes and as gods. They all embody and exemplify styles of consciousness, modes of living, ways of being. And it is only by being able to perceive the work of the real Hermes, that we can feel their presences at all. Without this, our worlds are filled with stereotypes, with typologies, with categories, with prejudices, and we never see a real person, never meet any Others at all. Until they break through in madness and misery, violence and destruction.\n\n
  • I propose in the dissertation to make several critical moves in analyzing the literature discussed earlier in union with my own experience with mandated participants of domestic violence intervention groups. First, I suspend feminist theory as a privileged ideology in the dialogue surrounding prevention and intervention of domestic violence. This move is not usurpation or an attempt to circumvent the legitimate concerns of feminist theory that have motivated great progress on the matter of systematic violence against women. Instead, it is recognition both in the review of literature and in my own experience that feminist theory, in emphasizing gender as superlative in domestic violence, has inadvertently slowed innovation in the field by dislodging other viable theoretical perspectives from the discourse. This is most evident, in my opinion, in that it is feminism itself that is becoming a lightning rod for discourse in domestic violence in some literature more so than the actual issue of family violence. The displacement of alternate perspectives in the intervention field and in policy-making in particular has also inadvertently, in my opinion and in some literature, delegitimized the narratives of the perpetrator as possible sources of insight and by inference, given their predominant representation in this population, the narratives of men in relation to domestic violence.\n\nSecond, I propose to utilize the critical, depth-hermeneutic framework that has been extensively outlined above, along with a decidedly depth-psychological sensibility, to examine, unpack, and interpret what I see as the central trope encasing DV intervention, the metaphor and archetypal image of the “Batterer.” From this exercise, I attempt to gain knowledge not only of the unreflected, repressed, and distorted desires, interests, and motives of domestic violence intervention, but also to make explicit to myself as a researcher the symbols and myths present in this encounter so that they can be consciously evaluated.\n\nThird, I propose to re-imagine DV intervention as the conscious fulfillment of the unpacking exercise just mentioned. I also, where warranted, advocate for new language that suggests itself as a result of this process or possible changes in language appearing to contribute to the stabilization of hypostatized ideologies that impede progress in the profession. In the interest of containing the scope of this dissertation, I further propose to bracket the discussion of interventions to areas where there are obvious gaps between research in the literature outlined above and actual implementation in current programs. The intention here, in keeping with the emancipative-action spirit of critical-hermeneutics, is to suggest new curricula or processes that fit with what this dissertation uncovers hermeneutically. \n\nThis process is organized into four tasks within the dissertation \n1. Unpacking Relationship Violence Research by connecting and contrasting various ideological, methodological, and disciplinary approaches.\n2. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence based on the expanded view gained through the unpacking process.\n3. (re)Framing the Individual to fit more effectively with the new model of relationship.\n4. (re)Imagining Intervention so that it is informed by better understanding of the phenomena of IPV.\n\n\n\n\n
  • The collection of prototypic IPV research presents with a distinctly victim advocacy and particularly a VAW perspective. As such, the quality of the circumscribed relationship of a couple along with the progression of each individual within it is an incidental matter. Relationship, in other words, does not seem to be the primary concern within the framing of much domestic violence research although it is without doubt the sine qua non leading to all such inquiry.\n\nFor the purposes of this dissertation, relationship and the quality of relatedness among the participants is at the center of inquiry. I use Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) as a fitting terms for referring to phenomena of violence and aggression in relationships. However, both of this term tends to place the violent act rather than the relationship at the center of inquiry and as such limits the discussion to the act itself. IPV researchers often endeavor to define and describe the violent act itself rather than the context of relationship that encompasses such acts. Violence within the relationship setting is often framed in such a way that it elicits a sense of disconnectedness from the context from which it emerges—i.e., the context of relatedness or intimacy and all the constructions that constitute intimacy and relationship. The issue of the context of relationship becomes prevalent as researchers and scholars segment violence occurring within a relationship from violence that does not, implying that it is both separate and unique based on the special connections present among participants that transcends the violent act itself. It is far from clear in many instances if violence should be considered a prominent feature of specific types of relationships exhibiting specific qualities and characteristics or if violence should be conceived as a feature imminent in the phenomenon of relationship and intimacy itself whose manifestation hinges on the presence or absence of certain factors. One might refer to relationships where interpersonal violence has become a regularized feature of daily interaction as a relationship or partnership “of violence,” effectively distinguishing such relationships from others where violence is not a prominent feature of daily interaction or is absent altogether.\n\nThis dissertation endeavors to place acts of IPV in a broader context with other forms of inquiry that seek in a like manner to define, understand, and confront the issue of violence in many forms of relationship and human relatedness. As may become evident in this dissertation, the phenomena that are relationship violence strongly resist both ideological and reductive processes of inquiry on account of both the numerous contributing factors and the variety of possible disciplinary explanations that can be applied to these factors.\n\n\n
  • O’Leary and Slep (2003) asserted that much of the new findings emerging from IPV research is only interpretable in the context of dyadic models that factor in mutual influence exhorted by the couple and that account for the stability of violence in the relationship over time. Fincham (2010) stated that understanding relational conflict itself is crucial given that it is a common precursor to IPV. The frequency and impact of chronic stressors both inside and outside the home has been strongly associated to verbal and psychological aggression along with reductions in relationship satisfaction for both partners that, in turn, sets the stage for a greater likelihood of physical aggression. Partners are far more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Cano and Vivian (2003) also found that stressors associated with loss and threats of loss discriminated between nonviolent and violent couples and between moderately violent and severely violent men and women. Stuart et al. (2006) reported that poor emotional regulation, provocation by a partner, retaliation for past abuse, and self-defense (primarily in severely violent cases)—all situationally and event driven causes—were the most common reasons cited for violence perpetration. This highly contextualized way of conceptualizing relationship violence is fundamentally different, but not incompatible with views focused solely on individuals and their violent behavior. \n\nA feature of contextualized models of IPV is that they distinguish themselves from previous models in seeking to integrate gender as a categorical and variable factor of difference rather than the exegesis of IPV. The mentioned features are critical distinctions in the modeling of IPV research in that all help to open the field to additional dimensions of explanation and the positing of various factors and pathways more in line with a psychotherepeutic framework that is found to be most effective for treatment of IPV situations.\n\nThe emerging aspects of new IPV models direct researchers beyond descriptive evaluations of a violent event that do little to understand the event’s meaning and collective impact or alter its trajectory. Instead, researchers adopting new perspectives of IPV events look at them as relational, interactional, and intersubjective in their scope and motives. They include historical and developmental aspects that add a temporal dimension beyond a snapshot view of individuals and situations. Most importantly perhaps, a collaborative approach is achieved that endeavors to conceive of the individual as a “collective actor situated within the horizon of worldly immanence.” This is a critical differentiation from past methods if research ever hopes to address the mimetic schemas underlying IPV behavior instead of confronting only the ways individuals embody collective cognitions, symbols, and representations of violence at a given historical point in time.\n\nCoercive and expessive control\n\nJewkes wrote, “violence is often deployed as a tactic in relationship conflict as well as being an expression of frustration or anger.” Violence as a tactic may further be included as a common dynamic within relationship interactions as a response to loss of control, unmet dependency needs, anxiety, fears, frustrations, and threats to self-esteem. On the more severe end of the spectrum are potential actions that are also associated with particular disorders of the personality. Winstok elaborated that the motivation for controlling a situation can lead individuals to utilize nonlegitimate forceful action directed at harming its target. Motive, action, and consequences are thus all factors to be considered in assessing relationship violence. \n\nThe connections between motivations for control and coercive behavior as a means of obtaining control is present in most definitions of violence in relationships. A recent study concluded, “control and aggression are two conceptualizations of the same phenomenon, rather than two distinct, yet interrelated, concepts.” The degree to which an individual needs to control a partner by regulating the partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is negatively correlated with ability for self-control and that both of these forms of control (self and partner) are representations of personal control and attempts at upholding a sense of personal efficacy or mastery. Personal control is a prerequisite for and individuals’ ability to plan and maintain their life environment in such a way that it meets their needs,” and “includes the ability to alter the course of events in their lives” (p. 170). \n\nBandura wrote:\nTo realize their aims, people try to exercise control over the events that affect their lives. They have a stronger incentive to act if they believe that control is possible— that their actions will be effective. Perceived self-efficacy, or a belief in one's personal capabilities, regulates human functioning. \n\nBandura (1997) tied the regulatory effects of perceived self-efficacy to not only cognitive and motivational function, but also demonstrated that loss of this perception has negative consequences for affect regulation including increased levels of anxiety and depression that have also been tied to IPV episodes. It is necessary for the individual to retain a sense of mastery in a relationship. Experiencing loss of control over one’s environment threatens the sense of mastery and elicits attempts to regain it through the use of controlling behaviors (e.g., aggression) toward others (e.g., intimate partners). \n\nIn other words, it appears a heightened need to control combined with a reduced ability for self-control creates an environment for more frequent and severe violent behaviors. \n\nWinstok and Perkis (2009) differentiated the individual’s need for control from motivation for control as an aspect of obtaining dominance. While the need to control a partner or the capability for regulating one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in interpersonal conflict may not lead to violence or constitute abuse in every case, the use of coercive control consisting of violence and threats of violence to maintain a position of power within the relationship is a configuration that appears most commonly in the most extreme cases and raises no doubt as to its abusive nature. \n\nA coercively controlling partner also works to legitimize and justify their actions in the context of the violent relationship, maintaining that they have the right to act in a violent way. Bandura described this phenomenon as a moral disengagement of the aggressing individual achieved through the cognitive restructuring of the violent and abusive behavior to fit their sense of morality.\n\nAccording to Johnson, it is the combination of any level of violence accompanied by high coercive control that defines what he calls intimate terrorism.\n\nTypology of IPV\n\nJohnson (2008) in establishing a typology of domestic violence utilizes the connections between individual incidences of violence and a general pattern of coercive control to distinguish between primary types of relationship violence. While Johnson used the presence of controlling tactics in differentiating typologies, he also asserted that violence is not exclusively motivated by a need or desire to gain or resist control in relationships experiencing violence. Violence is one of many tactics that might be aimed at exerting control (either partial or total) in a relationship. Violence also occurs when there is no intention of controlling the partner. Often, violence arises as a faulty expression of anger or frustration and is not directed at control of the partner.\n\nBased on the primary distinction of coercive control, Johnson identifies four patterns of relationship violence: Intimate terrorism in which an individual is violent and controlling and their partner is not; violent resistance in which an individual is violent, but not controlling in response to their partners controlling violence; situational couple violence where violence often occurs bi-directionlly, but neither partner is both violent and controlling; and mutual violent control where both partners are violent and controlling.\n\nReciprocal Aggression\n\nSituational couple violence is the most common form of relationship violence representing by some measures 80% of the cases of IPV in general population studies. It generally does not involve any attempt to gain control of the partner or relationship, is most commonly situationally provoked, is less severe in its expression and outcomes, tends to be a singular event, and is commonly self-resolving. It is best conceptualized as an escalating mutual conflict that gets out of hand due to the personality traits of the couple, situational circumstances, and limitations in the behavioral repertoire or skills deficit of the couple. This form of relational violence also exhibits a preponderance of mutual instigation and provocation of both direct and indirect aggression. Aggression and violence in most relationships where such incidences occur in other words, is bi-directional, reciprocal, and largely symmetrical in its constitution if not its outcomes and consequences. One in six married couples experience at least one case of situational violence in the course of their relationship. Fiebert (2009) compiled more than 270 empirical studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate some level of gender mutuality of IPV as part of their findings. One of the largest studies conducted supporting Johnson’s typology found bi-directional and mutual patterns of perpetration and revealed similarities in both male and female victimization.  Some findings also contradict the widely held view that bidirectional violence does not equate to mutual victimization in the form of injury, trauma, or fear They found similar rates of injury and fear of a partner for both men and women in violent relationships although severity of injury was more pronounced for women as the frequency and severity of aggression (both their own and their partner’s) increased.\n\nIntimate terrorism on the other hand is violence embedded in systematic coercive control and typically conceived as perpetrated by males on female partners. The use of coercive control tactics is most prominent in unilateral and mutual controlling relationships along with the violent resistance that sometimes accompanies these typologies. Exerting control is not the primary concern in more common situational instances. Much confusion occurs in studies when a particular typology is implicitly linked to IPV research data particularly when coercive types of violence are used as benchmarks and show themselves as persistent, unidirectional, severe, and gendered.\n\nDutton et al. (2005) suggested that the measurement of coercive control present in IPV incidences consists of interrelated scales of demands for compliance that an aggressor places upon their partner, coercive factors directed at harming or threatening harm to the partner, to the self, or to others, and surveillance tactics directed at monitoring compliance with demands. They concluded that “the coercion in which an assault is imbedded helps to define its level of severity” (p. 2) and as such should be assessed as part of the broader evaluation of IPV incidences and the potential direct and indirect responses to such coercive control by the recipient partner leading to violent resistance.\n\nTo recap, coercive control is the key factor separating the primary forms of partner violence. Violence when used systematically and coercively is an instrumental violence utilized by the controlling partner to dominate and completely control the household and relationship. It is also part of a pattern of tactics used to control the other partner’s thoughts and actions within the structure of the relationship. Control is achieved by the use of threats and intimidation, by undermining the partners will to resist through continual justification and legitimation for violent actions and by shifting blame to the other, by undermining the ability to resist via controlling and blocking access to resources needed for resistance, and by constant surveillance and monitoring to catch transgressions.\n\nThe predisposition to avoid either agency or general population surveys constructs differing perceptions of IPV. As a result of this organic bias, violence documented in general survey samples consists mostly of situational couple violence, while the violence in agency samples is mostly intimate partner terrorism and violent resistance. This assertion is upheld by Johnson’s (2006) study that found 89% of general survey samples of those individuals reporting some form of violence could be classified as situational couple violence as opposed to 11% as intimate terrorism whereas 68% of court samples and 79% of shelter samples could be classified as intimate terrorism. This also indicates that existing systems are somewhat effective at capturing severe cases of violence, but may be inadequate in dealing with the majority of IPV cases.\n\nEscalation\n\nFeld and Straus (1989) stated that most researchers and members of the public believe that violent behavior, once begun, tends to continue for the life of the relationship. While the term escalation as used in IPV research is generally used to describe an individual escalatory pattern or tendency for more severe and frequent forms of aggression to be used when more mild actions fail to resolve the conflict, it is important to note that most partners do not escalate from low to high levels of aggression and risk over time. This refutes the commonly held consensus among practitioners that violent partners will, if left unchecked, escalate in frequency and intensity over time. Instead, we find that there are particular, somewhat stable characteristics specific to each type IPV that establish thresholds distinct to each type and that these thresholds make it unlikely that an individual will move from one particular type to another. The mutual and bidirectional nature of aggression due to dyadic conflict in many violent relationships also means that when change [either positive or negative] occurs, it tends in the same direction for each member of the couple indicating that people grow or decline together in the relationship.\n\nPotegal said of the dynamics associated with aggressive acts, that they involve a sequence of behaviors, expressing escalation and de-escalation of the form or intensity of the actions taken, acting out over time. Such acting out can be interpreted economically if decisions to escalate aggression are calculated on potential benefits or risks; psychologically, involving acute emotional states of arousal; or as emergent processes that are spontaneously and dynamically generated by the actions and reactions of the participants. Winstok suggested that researchers should work to replace the terms aggression (violence), perpetrator (aggressor), and victim with escalation, escalator, and de-escalator respectively as a reflection of how the dynamic and process of aggressive escalation often overwhelms the individual actions of the actors in a violent drama. The question of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim becomes instead a question of who increases, decreases, or conserves the severity of violence between the parties.\n\nRegulating Factors\n\nEhrensaft and Vivian (1999) found that among couples with a history of aggressive and controlling behavior restrictive or limiting behaviors are often interpreted as normal. They found that “individuals who had either engaged in or received partner aggression appraised restrictive, domineering, and coercive behaviors from a partner as less controlling than individuals who had neither perpetrated nor received partner aggression.” They further go on to suggest that individuals who do not have a history of aggression would be more likely to extract themselves quickly from a relationship with an aggressive partner as they would recognize the controlling nature of the behavior and be reluctant to remain in such a relationship.\n\nIt has been shown that use of coercion in relationships rises dramatically as relationship satisfaction declines, and is accompanied with an increased use of indirect communication and aggression strategies. The prognosis however for a couple that remains on a trajectory of coercion, aggression, and violence is that the relationship will eventually dissolve even if the couple has heavy commitments or limited economic resources. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals involved in violent relationships either escape by leaving their partner or by changing their own and their partner’s behavior over time, or by naturally reducing in conflict and violence over time with the age of the individuals, a couple’s commitment to better relational skills if they stay together, or the evolution of the relationship status to more perceived stable states.\n\nThe highest incidence of IPV occurs in youth and decreases over time and the length of time a couple spends living together has a significant impact on the potential for divergence of their perceptions of conflict, thus on the quality of the relationship and on the expression of aggression. Dramatic decreases of physical aggression year over year were recorded in a study of violent couples with typically more than half of physically aggressive partners desisting from one yearly assessment to the next without any obvious external influences. Couples with a more positive relational foundation and history together are also more successful at shifting away from mutually destructive behavior. The premise that violence will eventually end the relationship and that individuals will regulate their own tolerance for violent and coercive behavior is upheld in findings that show that the vast majority of situational couple violence cases are in relationships of a current spouse/partner whereas the preponderance of cases classified as intimate terrorism are associated with a former spouse/partner. \n\nWhile cases of intimate terrorism tend to escalate or remain stable over time, eventually leading to the termination of the relationship or drawing the attention of law enforcement, the episodic nature of situational couple violence means that couples are less likely to engage in help-seeking as a coping tactic. Almost all such cases of situational violence are atypical for the relationship, rapidly diminish in frequency, and will remit on their own over time, demonstrating a high level of regulatory function to the concurrence of conflict and violence. This regulation extends as well to the severity of outcomes of such incidences considering that the the high frequency of physical aggression apparently existing in many relationships has a correspondingly low probability of an injury occurring, suggesting that couples that engage in physical aggression do so within specific, rule-based bounds. \n\nIPV for the most part is engaged in examining coercive power in relationship that due to its pathological origins creates resistance—often violent—and over time decreases attraction as evidenced by high incidences of relationship termination. The ability of partners to utilize various strategies in the exercise of power and personal efficacy in the relationship can have a profound impact on the trajectory of a specific conflict and the relationship as a whole over time. It is inequalities of power (both personal and social), not gender specifically that determines decision making, effects relationship satisfaction, and regulates how both women and men try to influence their partner through direct or indirect and unilateral or bilateral means. \n\nFactors of control and aggression are linked through the need for self-efficacy. Continued attempts and failure to normatively control a partner combined with poor capabilities of self-control may cause the introduction of control behaviors into the repertoire of the couple. From the interpretive framework of aggression, a researcher may distinguish the pervasiveness of aggression and categorize violent relationships based on the severity, frequency, and adverse outcomes presented. From the standpoint of control behaviors, a similar differentiation of mild to severe forms control could still be identified even in the absence of physical aggression. Control in the context of relationship violence then hinges on whether the use of violence is proactive, in that it is used by a partner who has an excessive need for control to gain and keep control, or if it is reactive, in that it is situationally motivated and emotionally explosive violence based on the individual’s need to regain control of themselves by controlling their partner within the given situation. \n\nMany acts of IPV seem to be caused in large part by momentary failures in self-regulation or self-regulatory failures, which refer to individuals’ tendencies to act on their gut-level impulses rather than on well-considered preferences that are better aligned with their long-term goals and preferences. Attachment factors in the form of high levels of emotional interdependence in intimate relationships provide one compelling explanation for high rates of violence emerging from relationship conflict compared to other forms of conflict. The opportunities for elevated levels of verbal conflict, that often portend violence in distressed relationships, along with a highly interdependent relationship, where the motivation for influencing or even coercing a partner is high, sets the stage for conflicting interests to arise and will often predict higher levels of IPV. Violent impulses may well emerge more frequently and more powerfully toward intimate partners than toward other individuals in large part because of the strong interdependence characteristic of such partnerships . . . which renders conflict an inevitable—though often unanticipated—feature of close relationships. For the most part, evidence indicates that most people who are vulnerable to violent impulses during conflicts with their partner are able to inhibit acts of aggression, but may eventually succumb under certain circumstances where there is a failure of self-regulation. Finkel looked at factors of dispositional self-control, the availability of cognitive processing time, and the depletion or bolstering of self-regulatory resources to elucidate how such factors may play a pivotal role in determining if violent impulses translate into violent behavior against a partner. He found that, individuals will only perpetrate IPV when the violence-impelling forces they experience at that time exceed the violence-inhibiting forces. Once violence-impelling forces surpass violence-inhibiting forces, however, the individual will often perpetrate IPV. He also adds that any additional factors that reinforce or strengthen impelling forces already exceeding a person’s threshold of inhibition will tend to further influence the form and intensity of violent acts.\n\nThe Red Line\n\nThere are indications that control behaviors, similar to expressions of aggression operate within a bounded framework. While the need to control a partner co-occurs with issues of self-control in many IPV incidences, situational/reactive forms tend to culminate in verbal assaults as both an expression of aggression and as a control behavior whereas terrorist/proactive forms utilize both threats of physical violence and actual physical violence for the same purpose. Indeed, in the case of proactive violence, the individual’s need to control was linked more directly to threats of violence and physical aggression than to loss of self-control and verbal aggression as it is with reactive violence. From the normative angle in partner control, it seems that self-control incapability and verbal aggression are tolerable norms whereas threats and actual physical violence contradict acceptable standards and are not to be tolerated. A distinct line divides between what is to be tolerated and what is to be rejected. The weak co-occurrence of verbal aggression with threats of physical violence indicates a regulating “red-line” that most individuals generally do not cross over in moving from verbal aggression to threats and threats with physical violence.\n\nBandura said:\nIn the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guide s and deterrents for conduct. In this self-regulatory process, people monitor their conduct and the conditions under which it occurs, judge it in relation to their moral standards and perceived circumstances, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves.\n\nRifkin stated that recent advances in biological sciences demonstrate that human beings are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship rather than for aggression, violence, self-interest, and utilitarianism. He claimed that the individual’s primary motivation is the empathic drive to belong rather than to gain power and control. Is it possible, he asked, that human beings are not inherently evil or intrinsically self-interested or materialistic, but are of a very different nature—an empathic one—and that all of the other drives that we have considered to be primary—aggression, violence, selfish behavior, acquisitiveness—are in fact secondary drives that flow from repression or denial of our most basic instinct? (p. 18)\n\nAttitudes and Beliefs\n\nThe benchmarks for acceptable behavior, including the use of control and aggression, are subject to factors of time, place, and tradition. Threats of violence and acts of physical violence are widely seen as contradictory to acceptable standards of relationship behavior and are not generally tolerated. Verbal and nonphysical aggressions are less definite, particularly in the context of relational and individual deficits mutually contributing to a couple’s distress. There is in several studies evidence of a general acceptance of some level of aggressiveness in relational dyads as, aside from terminating the relationship as a response to violence, many partners either respond reciprocally with their own aggression or don’t see the violence as a particularly alarming or relationship defining issue. While some theories of IPV stress a seeming broad acceptance of violence and coercion as an acceptable tactic in relational conflict resolution or the socialization of men and women into specific roles within the violent relationship, what seems to matter most in the study of IPV is the manifest characteristics of the individual and dynamics of relatedness the couple co-create. Numerous general population studies have found that gender attitudes are not a significant factor of IPV except in cases of intimate terrorism where misogyny is distinctly more prevalent. Finkel also documents a pervading lack of esteem, empowerment, and control in men as violence impelling factors contrary to strong ego elements of esteem and self-control that are violence inhibiting. Findings such as these demonstrate a lack of evidence translating patriarchal power into personal power in the relationship and diminish the viability of direct socio-cultural explanations as a sole framework for IPV.\n\nThe possible responses of a society to IPV, including criminal justice and mental health systems, heavily depends upon what the understanding of IPV is. The image of a passive, helpless, and depressed women paired to a man enacting stereotypes of hypermasculity motivated by the rewards of total control has become the default portrait most often drawn of the violent couple. This image radically bifurcates relationships into those that are nonviolent and those that are violent. In violent relationships, masculinity is suspect, conflict is a struggle for power, and influence is always coercive. Gender, however, as with other characteristics of human beings, takes form in the interaction with others. Aggression is a specific expression of such characteristics that is performed in the context of relationship and the etiology of violence is both more expansive and varied than such limited explanations can endorse.\n\nIntergenerational Transmission\n\nDenzin wrote, The violence that each family of violence makes and experiences has been made and experienced before. It is not purely spontaneous, made under conditions freely chosen. Rather, it is produced and experienced in situations which have been given and handed down to them . . . from . . . countless dead generations, also the victims of a violent past that was inherited.\n\nThe intergenerational transmission of domestic violence has been one of the most enduring and commonly reported influences on aggression generally and in family violence specifically. Much of the research conducted on understanding the origins of violence within the family and positing solutions has used social learning theory to frame the discussion. The conception pivots on mechanisms of modeling in the acquisition of aggressive behavior and posits that the witnessing or observation of violence in the family of origin creates attitudes, ideas, and norms about how, when, and towards whom aggression is appropriate. Couples learn to utilize violence to control a conflict or intimate partner by initially witnessing an attachment figure or role model successfully do the same. This imitative behavior integrates influences from friends and family along with social institutional factors that develop an individual’s attitudes, values, and perceptions toward the use of violence as a control tactic and is further reinforced through the continued association with others who endorse or approve of such control and when greater rewards than costs from using coercive control are anticipated by the individual.\n\nMany early studies of domestic violence encountered a high frequency of parental violence in the families of violent perpetrators. Similarly, several researchers make a strong association between maltreatment as a child and later adult IPV perpetration and victimization by a partner. Both exposure to child abuse and observation of inter-parental spousal violence together further increase the probability of partner aggression for both men and women.\n\nThe consistent presence of coercive interactional processes across dysfunctional parent-child relations, a conduct disordered adolesence, early dating violence, and adult IPV provide the conception for a unified temporal mechanism as patterns of emotional and behavioral self-regulation that are learned and reinforced in the family of origin are applied to subsequent relationships. Attachment processes and the intergenerational transmission of attachment may be blocked by culture-specific rearing conditions and discontinued or altered by major life events such as the loss of attachment figures or damage through deprivation and trauma. The continuity of oppositional, aggressive behavior throughout life may, in other words, account for the linkages of adversities from childhood experiences through to adult IPV experiences.\n\n
  • O’Leary and Slep (2003) asserted that much of the new findings emerging from IPV research is only interpretable in the context of dyadic models that factor in mutual influence exhorted by the couple and that account for the stability of violence in the relationship over time. Fincham (2010) stated that understanding relational conflict itself is crucial given that it is a common precursor to IPV. The frequency and impact of chronic stressors both inside and outside the home has been strongly associated to verbal and psychological aggression along with reductions in relationship satisfaction for both partners that, in turn, sets the stage for a greater likelihood of physical aggression. Partners are far more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Cano and Vivian (2003) also found that stressors associated with loss and threats of loss discriminated between nonviolent and violent couples and between moderately violent and severely violent men and women. Stuart et al. (2006) reported that poor emotional regulation, provocation by a partner, retaliation for past abuse, and self-defense (primarily in severely violent cases)—all situationally and event driven causes—were the most common reasons cited for violence perpetration. This highly contextualized way of conceptualizing relationship violence is fundamentally different, but not incompatible with views focused solely on individuals and their violent behavior. \n\nA feature of contextualized models of IPV is that they distinguish themselves from previous models in seeking to integrate gender as a categorical and variable factor of difference rather than the exegesis of IPV. The mentioned features are critical distinctions in the modeling of IPV research in that all help to open the field to additional dimensions of explanation and the positing of various factors and pathways more in line with a psychotherepeutic framework that is found to be most effective for treatment of IPV situations.\n\nThe emerging aspects of new IPV models direct researchers beyond descriptive evaluations of a violent event that do little to understand the event’s meaning and collective impact or alter its trajectory. Instead, researchers adopting new perspectives of IPV events look at them as relational, interactional, and intersubjective in their scope and motives. They include historical and developmental aspects that add a temporal dimension beyond a snapshot view of individuals and situations. Most importantly perhaps, a collaborative approach is achieved that endeavors to conceive of the individual as a “collective actor situated within the horizon of worldly immanence.” This is a critical differentiation from past methods if research ever hopes to address the mimetic schemas underlying IPV behavior instead of confronting only the ways individuals embody collective cognitions, symbols, and representations of violence at a given historical point in time.\n\nCoercive and expessive control\n\nJewkes wrote, “violence is often deployed as a tactic in relationship conflict as well as being an expression of frustration or anger.” Violence as a tactic may further be included as a common dynamic within relationship interactions as a response to loss of control, unmet dependency needs, anxiety, fears, frustrations, and threats to self-esteem. On the more severe end of the spectrum are potential actions that are also associated with particular disorders of the personality. Winstok elaborated that the motivation for controlling a situation can lead individuals to utilize nonlegitimate forceful action directed at harming its target. Motive, action, and consequences are thus all factors to be considered in assessing relationship violence. \n\nThe connections between motivations for control and coercive behavior as a means of obtaining control is present in most definitions of violence in relationships. A recent study concluded, “control and aggression are two conceptualizations of the same phenomenon, rather than two distinct, yet interrelated, concepts.” The degree to which an individual needs to control a partner by regulating the partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is negatively correlated with ability for self-control and that both of these forms of control (self and partner) are representations of personal control and attempts at upholding a sense of personal efficacy or mastery. Personal control is a prerequisite for and individuals’ ability to plan and maintain their life environment in such a way that it meets their needs,” and “includes the ability to alter the course of events in their lives” (p. 170). \n\nBandura wrote:\nTo realize their aims, people try to exercise control over the events that affect their lives. They have a stronger incentive to act if they believe that control is possible— that their actions will be effective. Perceived self-efficacy, or a belief in one's personal capabilities, regulates human functioning. \n\nBandura (1997) tied the regulatory effects of perceived self-efficacy to not only cognitive and motivational function, but also demonstrated that loss of this perception has negative consequences for affect regulation including increased levels of anxiety and depression that have also been tied to IPV episodes. It is necessary for the individual to retain a sense of mastery in a relationship. Experiencing loss of control over one’s environment threatens the sense of mastery and elicits attempts to regain it through the use of controlling behaviors (e.g., aggression) toward others (e.g., intimate partners). \n\nIn other words, it appears a heightened need to control combined with a reduced ability for self-control creates an environment for more frequent and severe violent behaviors. \n\nWinstok and Perkis (2009) differentiated the individual’s need for control from motivation for control as an aspect of obtaining dominance. While the need to control a partner or the capability for regulating one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in interpersonal conflict may not lead to violence or constitute abuse in every case, the use of coercive control consisting of violence and threats of violence to maintain a position of power within the relationship is a configuration that appears most commonly in the most extreme cases and raises no doubt as to its abusive nature. \n\nA coercively controlling partner also works to legitimize and justify their actions in the context of the violent relationship, maintaining that they have the right to act in a violent way. Bandura described this phenomenon as a moral disengagement of the aggressing individual achieved through the cognitive restructuring of the violent and abusive behavior to fit their sense of morality.\n\nAccording to Johnson, it is the combination of any level of violence accompanied by high coercive control that defines what he calls intimate terrorism.\n\nTypology of IPV\n\nJohnson (2008) in establishing a typology of domestic violence utilizes the connections between individual incidences of violence and a general pattern of coercive control to distinguish between primary types of relationship violence. While Johnson used the presence of controlling tactics in differentiating typologies, he also asserted that violence is not exclusively motivated by a need or desire to gain or resist control in relationships experiencing violence. Violence is one of many tactics that might be aimed at exerting control (either partial or total) in a relationship. Violence also occurs when there is no intention of controlling the partner. Often, violence arises as a faulty expression of anger or frustration and is not directed at control of the partner.\n\nBased on the primary distinction of coercive control, Johnson identifies four patterns of relationship violence: Intimate terrorism in which an individual is violent and controlling and their partner is not; violent resistance in which an individual is violent, but not controlling in response to their partners controlling violence; situational couple violence where violence often occurs bi-directionlly, but neither partner is both violent and controlling; and mutual violent control where both partners are violent and controlling.\n\nReciprocal Aggression\n\nSituational couple violence is the most common form of relationship violence representing by some measures 80% of the cases of IPV in general population studies. It generally does not involve any attempt to gain control of the partner or relationship, is most commonly situationally provoked, is less severe in its expression and outcomes, tends to be a singular event, and is commonly self-resolving. It is best conceptualized as an escalating mutual conflict that gets out of hand due to the personality traits of the couple, situational circumstances, and limitations in the behavioral repertoire or skills deficit of the couple. This form of relational violence also exhibits a preponderance of mutual instigation and provocation of both direct and indirect aggression. Aggression and violence in most relationships where such incidences occur in other words, is bi-directional, reciprocal, and largely symmetrical in its constitution if not its outcomes and consequences. One in six married couples experience at least one case of situational violence in the course of their relationship. Fiebert (2009) compiled more than 270 empirical studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate some level of gender mutuality of IPV as part of their findings. One of the largest studies conducted supporting Johnson’s typology found bi-directional and mutual patterns of perpetration and revealed similarities in both male and female victimization.  Some findings also contradict the widely held view that bidirectional violence does not equate to mutual victimization in the form of injury, trauma, or fear They found similar rates of injury and fear of a partner for both men and women in violent relationships although severity of injury was more pronounced for women as the frequency and severity of aggression (both their own and their partner’s) increased.\n\nIntimate terrorism on the other hand is violence embedded in systematic coercive control and typically conceived as perpetrated by males on female partners. The use of coercive control tactics is most prominent in unilateral and mutual controlling relationships along with the violent resistance that sometimes accompanies these typologies. Exerting control is not the primary concern in more common situational instances. Much confusion occurs in studies when a particular typology is implicitly linked to IPV research data particularly when coercive types of violence are used as benchmarks and show themselves as persistent, unidirectional, severe, and gendered.\n\nDutton et al. (2005) suggested that the measurement of coercive control present in IPV incidences consists of interrelated scales of demands for compliance that an aggressor places upon their partner, coercive factors directed at harming or threatening harm to the partner, to the self, or to others, and surveillance tactics directed at monitoring compliance with demands. They concluded that “the coercion in which an assault is imbedded helps to define its level of severity” (p. 2) and as such should be assessed as part of the broader evaluation of IPV incidences and the potential direct and indirect responses to such coercive control by the recipient partner leading to violent resistance.\n\nTo recap, coercive control is the key factor separating the primary forms of partner violence. Violence when used systematically and coercively is an instrumental violence utilized by the controlling partner to dominate and completely control the household and relationship. It is also part of a pattern of tactics used to control the other partner’s thoughts and actions within the structure of the relationship. Control is achieved by the use of threats and intimidation, by undermining the partners will to resist through continual justification and legitimation for violent actions and by shifting blame to the other, by undermining the ability to resist via controlling and blocking access to resources needed for resistance, and by constant surveillance and monitoring to catch transgressions.\n\nThe predisposition to avoid either agency or general population surveys constructs differing perceptions of IPV. As a result of this organic bias, violence documented in general survey samples consists mostly of situational couple violence, while the violence in agency samples is mostly intimate partner terrorism and violent resistance. This assertion is upheld by Johnson’s (2006) study that found 89% of general survey samples of those individuals reporting some form of violence could be classified as situational couple violence as opposed to 11% as intimate terrorism whereas 68% of court samples and 79% of shelter samples could be classified as intimate terrorism. This also indicates that existing systems are somewhat effective at capturing severe cases of violence, but may be inadequate in dealing with the majority of IPV cases.\n\nEscalation\n\nFeld and Straus (1989) stated that most researchers and members of the public believe that violent behavior, once begun, tends to continue for the life of the relationship. While the term escalation as used in IPV research is generally used to describe an individual escalatory pattern or tendency for more severe and frequent forms of aggression to be used when more mild actions fail to resolve the conflict, it is important to note that most partners do not escalate from low to high levels of aggression and risk over time. This refutes the commonly held consensus among practitioners that violent partners will, if left unchecked, escalate in frequency and intensity over time. Instead, we find that there are particular, somewhat stable characteristics specific to each type IPV that establish thresholds distinct to each type and that these thresholds make it unlikely that an individual will move from one particular type to another. The mutual and bidirectional nature of aggression due to dyadic conflict in many violent relationships also means that when change [either positive or negative] occurs, it tends in the same direction for each member of the couple indicating that people grow or decline together in the relationship.\n\nPotegal said of the dynamics associated with aggressive acts, that they involve a sequence of behaviors, expressing escalation and de-escalation of the form or intensity of the actions taken, acting out over time. Such acting out can be interpreted economically if decisions to escalate aggression are calculated on potential benefits or risks; psychologically, involving acute emotional states of arousal; or as emergent processes that are spontaneously and dynamically generated by the actions and reactions of the participants. Winstok suggested that researchers should work to replace the terms aggression (violence), perpetrator (aggressor), and victim with escalation, escalator, and de-escalator respectively as a reflection of how the dynamic and process of aggressive escalation often overwhelms the individual actions of the actors in a violent drama. The question of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim becomes instead a question of who increases, decreases, or conserves the severity of violence between the parties.\n\nRegulating Factors\n\nEhrensaft and Vivian (1999) found that among couples with a history of aggressive and controlling behavior restrictive or limiting behaviors are often interpreted as normal. They found that “individuals who had either engaged in or received partner aggression appraised restrictive, domineering, and coercive behaviors from a partner as less controlling than individuals who had neither perpetrated nor received partner aggression.” They further go on to suggest that individuals who do not have a history of aggression would be more likely to extract themselves quickly from a relationship with an aggressive partner as they would recognize the controlling nature of the behavior and be reluctant to remain in such a relationship.\n\nIt has been shown that use of coercion in relationships rises dramatically as relationship satisfaction declines, and is accompanied with an increased use of indirect communication and aggression strategies. The prognosis however for a couple that remains on a trajectory of coercion, aggression, and violence is that the relationship will eventually dissolve even if the couple has heavy commitments or limited economic resources. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals involved in violent relationships either escape by leaving their partner or by changing their own and their partner’s behavior over time, or by naturally reducing in conflict and violence over time with the age of the individuals, a couple’s commitment to better relational skills if they stay together, or the evolution of the relationship status to more perceived stable states.\n\nThe highest incidence of IPV occurs in youth and decreases over time and the length of time a couple spends living together has a significant impact on the potential for divergence of their perceptions of conflict, thus on the quality of the relationship and on the expression of aggression. Dramatic decreases of physical aggression year over year were recorded in a study of violent couples with typically more than half of physically aggressive partners desisting from one yearly assessment to the next without any obvious external influences. Couples with a more positive relational foundation and history together are also more successful at shifting away from mutually destructive behavior. The premise that violence will eventually end the relationship and that individuals will regulate their own tolerance for violent and coercive behavior is upheld in findings that show that the vast majority of situational couple violence cases are in relationships of a current spouse/partner whereas the preponderance of cases classified as intimate terrorism are associated with a former spouse/partner. \n\nWhile cases of intimate terrorism tend to escalate or remain stable over time, eventually leading to the termination of the relationship or drawing the attention of law enforcement, the episodic nature of situational couple violence means that couples are less likely to engage in help-seeking as a coping tactic. Almost all such cases of situational violence are atypical for the relationship, rapidly diminish in frequency, and will remit on their own over time, demonstrating a high level of regulatory function to the concurrence of conflict and violence. This regulation extends as well to the severity of outcomes of such incidences considering that the the high frequency of physical aggression apparently existing in many relationships has a correspondingly low probability of an injury occurring, suggesting that couples that engage in physical aggression do so within specific, rule-based bounds. \n\nIPV for the most part is engaged in examining coercive power in relationship that due to its pathological origins creates resistance—often violent—and over time decreases attraction as evidenced by high incidences of relationship termination. The ability of partners to utilize various strategies in the exercise of power and personal efficacy in the relationship can have a profound impact on the trajectory of a specific conflict and the relationship as a whole over time. It is inequalities of power (both personal and social), not gender specifically that determines decision making, effects relationship satisfaction, and regulates how both women and men try to influence their partner through direct or indirect and unilateral or bilateral means. \n\nFactors of control and aggression are linked through the need for self-efficacy. Continued attempts and failure to normatively control a partner combined with poor capabilities of self-control may cause the introduction of control behaviors into the repertoire of the couple. From the interpretive framework of aggression, a researcher may distinguish the pervasiveness of aggression and categorize violent relationships based on the severity, frequency, and adverse outcomes presented. From the standpoint of control behaviors, a similar differentiation of mild to severe forms control could still be identified even in the absence of physical aggression. Control in the context of relationship violence then hinges on whether the use of violence is proactive, in that it is used by a partner who has an excessive need for control to gain and keep control, or if it is reactive, in that it is situationally motivated and emotionally explosive violence based on the individual’s need to regain control of themselves by controlling their partner within the given situation. \n\nMany acts of IPV seem to be caused in large part by momentary failures in self-regulation or self-regulatory failures, which refer to individuals’ tendencies to act on their gut-level impulses rather than on well-considered preferences that are better aligned with their long-term goals and preferences. Attachment factors in the form of high levels of emotional interdependence in intimate relationships provide one compelling explanation for high rates of violence emerging from relationship conflict compared to other forms of conflict. The opportunities for elevated levels of verbal conflict, that often portend violence in distressed relationships, along with a highly interdependent relationship, where the motivation for influencing or even coercing a partner is high, sets the stage for conflicting interests to arise and will often predict higher levels of IPV. Violent impulses may well emerge more frequently and more powerfully toward intimate partners than toward other individuals in large part because of the strong interdependence characteristic of such partnerships . . . which renders conflict an inevitable—though often unanticipated—feature of close relationships. For the most part, evidence indicates that most people who are vulnerable to violent impulses during conflicts with their partner are able to inhibit acts of aggression, but may eventually succumb under certain circumstances where there is a failure of self-regulation. Finkel looked at factors of dispositional self-control, the availability of cognitive processing time, and the depletion or bolstering of self-regulatory resources to elucidate how such factors may play a pivotal role in determining if violent impulses translate into violent behavior against a partner. He found that, individuals will only perpetrate IPV when the violence-impelling forces they experience at that time exceed the violence-inhibiting forces. Once violence-impelling forces surpass violence-inhibiting forces, however, the individual will often perpetrate IPV. He also adds that any additional factors that reinforce or strengthen impelling forces already exceeding a person’s threshold of inhibition will tend to further influence the form and intensity of violent acts.\n\nThe Red Line\n\nThere are indications that control behaviors, similar to expressions of aggression operate within a bounded framework. While the need to control a partner co-occurs with issues of self-control in many IPV incidences, situational/reactive forms tend to culminate in verbal assaults as both an expression of aggression and as a control behavior whereas terrorist/proactive forms utilize both threats of physical violence and actual physical violence for the same purpose. Indeed, in the case of proactive violence, the individual’s need to control was linked more directly to threats of violence and physical aggression than to loss of self-control and verbal aggression as it is with reactive violence. From the normative angle in partner control, it seems that self-control incapability and verbal aggression are tolerable norms whereas threats and actual physical violence contradict acceptable standards and are not to be tolerated. A distinct line divides between what is to be tolerated and what is to be rejected. The weak co-occurrence of verbal aggression with threats of physical violence indicates a regulating “red-line” that most individuals generally do not cross over in moving from verbal aggression to threats and threats with physical violence.\n\nBandura said:\nIn the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guide s and deterrents for conduct. In this self-regulatory process, people monitor their conduct and the conditions under which it occurs, judge it in relation to their moral standards and perceived circumstances, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves.\n\nRifkin stated that recent advances in biological sciences demonstrate that human beings are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship rather than for aggression, violence, self-interest, and utilitarianism. He claimed that the individual’s primary motivation is the empathic drive to belong rather than to gain power and control. Is it possible, he asked, that human beings are not inherently evil or intrinsically self-interested or materialistic, but are of a very different nature—an empathic one—and that all of the other drives that we have considered to be primary—aggression, violence, selfish behavior, acquisitiveness—are in fact secondary drives that flow from repression or denial of our most basic instinct? (p. 18)\n\nAttitudes and Beliefs\n\nThe benchmarks for acceptable behavior, including the use of control and aggression, are subject to factors of time, place, and tradition. Threats of violence and acts of physical violence are widely seen as contradictory to acceptable standards of relationship behavior and are not generally tolerated. Verbal and nonphysical aggressions are less definite, particularly in the context of relational and individual deficits mutually contributing to a couple’s distress. There is in several studies evidence of a general acceptance of some level of aggressiveness in relational dyads as, aside from terminating the relationship as a response to violence, many partners either respond reciprocally with their own aggression or don’t see the violence as a particularly alarming or relationship defining issue. While some theories of IPV stress a seeming broad acceptance of violence and coercion as an acceptable tactic in relational conflict resolution or the socialization of men and women into specific roles within the violent relationship, what seems to matter most in the study of IPV is the manifest characteristics of the individual and dynamics of relatedness the couple co-create. Numerous general population studies have found that gender attitudes are not a significant factor of IPV except in cases of intimate terrorism where misogyny is distinctly more prevalent. Finkel also documents a pervading lack of esteem, empowerment, and control in men as violence impelling factors contrary to strong ego elements of esteem and self-control that are violence inhibiting. Findings such as these demonstrate a lack of evidence translating patriarchal power into personal power in the relationship and diminish the viability of direct socio-cultural explanations as a sole framework for IPV.\n\nThe possible responses of a society to IPV, including criminal justice and mental health systems, heavily depends upon what the understanding of IPV is. The image of a passive, helpless, and depressed women paired to a man enacting stereotypes of hypermasculity motivated by the rewards of total control has become the default portrait most often drawn of the violent couple. This image radically bifurcates relationships into those that are nonviolent and those that are violent. In violent relationships, masculinity is suspect, conflict is a struggle for power, and influence is always coercive. Gender, however, as with other characteristics of human beings, takes form in the interaction with others. Aggression is a specific expression of such characteristics that is performed in the context of relationship and the etiology of violence is both more expansive and varied than such limited explanations can endorse.\n\nIntergenerational Transmission\n\nDenzin wrote, The violence that each family of violence makes and experiences has been made and experienced before. It is not purely spontaneous, made under conditions freely chosen. Rather, it is produced and experienced in situations which have been given and handed down to them . . . from . . . countless dead generations, also the victims of a violent past that was inherited.\n\nThe intergenerational transmission of domestic violence has been one of the most enduring and commonly reported influences on aggression generally and in family violence specifically. Much of the research conducted on understanding the origins of violence within the family and positing solutions has used social learning theory to frame the discussion. The conception pivots on mechanisms of modeling in the acquisition of aggressive behavior and posits that the witnessing or observation of violence in the family of origin creates attitudes, ideas, and norms about how, when, and towards whom aggression is appropriate. Couples learn to utilize violence to control a conflict or intimate partner by initially witnessing an attachment figure or role model successfully do the same. This imitative behavior integrates influences from friends and family along with social institutional factors that develop an individual’s attitudes, values, and perceptions toward the use of violence as a control tactic and is further reinforced through the continued association with others who endorse or approve of such control and when greater rewards than costs from using coercive control are anticipated by the individual.\n\nMany early studies of domestic violence encountered a high frequency of parental violence in the families of violent perpetrators. Similarly, several researchers make a strong association between maltreatment as a child and later adult IPV perpetration and victimization by a partner. Both exposure to child abuse and observation of inter-parental spousal violence together further increase the probability of partner aggression for both men and women.\n\nThe consistent presence of coercive interactional processes across dysfunctional parent-child relations, a conduct disordered adolesence, early dating violence, and adult IPV provide the conception for a unified temporal mechanism as patterns of emotional and behavioral self-regulation that are learned and reinforced in the family of origin are applied to subsequent relationships. Attachment processes and the intergenerational transmission of attachment may be blocked by culture-specific rearing conditions and discontinued or altered by major life events such as the loss of attachment figures or damage through deprivation and trauma. The continuity of oppositional, aggressive behavior throughout life may, in other words, account for the linkages of adversities from childhood experiences through to adult IPV experiences.\n\n
  • O’Leary and Slep (2003) asserted that much of the new findings emerging from IPV research is only interpretable in the context of dyadic models that factor in mutual influence exhorted by the couple and that account for the stability of violence in the relationship over time. Fincham (2010) stated that understanding relational conflict itself is crucial given that it is a common precursor to IPV. The frequency and impact of chronic stressors both inside and outside the home has been strongly associated to verbal and psychological aggression along with reductions in relationship satisfaction for both partners that, in turn, sets the stage for a greater likelihood of physical aggression. Partners are far more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Cano and Vivian (2003) also found that stressors associated with loss and threats of loss discriminated between nonviolent and violent couples and between moderately violent and severely violent men and women. Stuart et al. (2006) reported that poor emotional regulation, provocation by a partner, retaliation for past abuse, and self-defense (primarily in severely violent cases)—all situationally and event driven causes—were the most common reasons cited for violence perpetration. This highly contextualized way of conceptualizing relationship violence is fundamentally different, but not incompatible with views focused solely on individuals and their violent behavior. \n\nA feature of contextualized models of IPV is that they distinguish themselves from previous models in seeking to integrate gender as a categorical and variable factor of difference rather than the exegesis of IPV. The mentioned features are critical distinctions in the modeling of IPV research in that all help to open the field to additional dimensions of explanation and the positing of various factors and pathways more in line with a psychotherepeutic framework that is found to be most effective for treatment of IPV situations.\n\nThe emerging aspects of new IPV models direct researchers beyond descriptive evaluations of a violent event that do little to understand the event’s meaning and collective impact or alter its trajectory. Instead, researchers adopting new perspectives of IPV events look at them as relational, interactional, and intersubjective in their scope and motives. They include historical and developmental aspects that add a temporal dimension beyond a snapshot view of individuals and situations. Most importantly perhaps, a collaborative approach is achieved that endeavors to conceive of the individual as a “collective actor situated within the horizon of worldly immanence.” This is a critical differentiation from past methods if research ever hopes to address the mimetic schemas underlying IPV behavior instead of confronting only the ways individuals embody collective cognitions, symbols, and representations of violence at a given historical point in time.\n\nCoercive and expessive control\n\nJewkes wrote, “violence is often deployed as a tactic in relationship conflict as well as being an expression of frustration or anger.” Violence as a tactic may further be included as a common dynamic within relationship interactions as a response to loss of control, unmet dependency needs, anxiety, fears, frustrations, and threats to self-esteem. On the more severe end of the spectrum are potential actions that are also associated with particular disorders of the personality. Winstok elaborated that the motivation for controlling a situation can lead individuals to utilize nonlegitimate forceful action directed at harming its target. Motive, action, and consequences are thus all factors to be considered in assessing relationship violence. \n\nThe connections between motivations for control and coercive behavior as a means of obtaining control is present in most definitions of violence in relationships. A recent study concluded, “control and aggression are two conceptualizations of the same phenomenon, rather than two distinct, yet interrelated, concepts.” The degree to which an individual needs to control a partner by regulating the partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is negatively correlated with ability for self-control and that both of these forms of control (self and partner) are representations of personal control and attempts at upholding a sense of personal efficacy or mastery. Personal control is a prerequisite for and individuals’ ability to plan and maintain their life environment in such a way that it meets their needs,” and “includes the ability to alter the course of events in their lives” (p. 170). \n\nBandura wrote:\nTo realize their aims, people try to exercise control over the events that affect their lives. They have a stronger incentive to act if they believe that control is possible— that their actions will be effective. Perceived self-efficacy, or a belief in one's personal capabilities, regulates human functioning. \n\nBandura (1997) tied the regulatory effects of perceived self-efficacy to not only cognitive and motivational function, but also demonstrated that loss of this perception has negative consequences for affect regulation including increased levels of anxiety and depression that have also been tied to IPV episodes. It is necessary for the individual to retain a sense of mastery in a relationship. Experiencing loss of control over one’s environment threatens the sense of mastery and elicits attempts to regain it through the use of controlling behaviors (e.g., aggression) toward others (e.g., intimate partners). \n\nIn other words, it appears a heightened need to control combined with a reduced ability for self-control creates an environment for more frequent and severe violent behaviors. \n\nWinstok and Perkis (2009) differentiated the individual’s need for control from motivation for control as an aspect of obtaining dominance. While the need to control a partner or the capability for regulating one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in interpersonal conflict may not lead to violence or constitute abuse in every case, the use of coercive control consisting of violence and threats of violence to maintain a position of power within the relationship is a configuration that appears most commonly in the most extreme cases and raises no doubt as to its abusive nature. \n\nA coercively controlling partner also works to legitimize and justify their actions in the context of the violent relationship, maintaining that they have the right to act in a violent way. Bandura described this phenomenon as a moral disengagement of the aggressing individual achieved through the cognitive restructuring of the violent and abusive behavior to fit their sense of morality.\n\nAccording to Johnson, it is the combination of any level of violence accompanied by high coercive control that defines what he calls intimate terrorism.\n\nTypology of IPV\n\nJohnson (2008) in establishing a typology of domestic violence utilizes the connections between individual incidences of violence and a general pattern of coercive control to distinguish between primary types of relationship violence. While Johnson used the presence of controlling tactics in differentiating typologies, he also asserted that violence is not exclusively motivated by a need or desire to gain or resist control in relationships experiencing violence. Violence is one of many tactics that might be aimed at exerting control (either partial or total) in a relationship. Violence also occurs when there is no intention of controlling the partner. Often, violence arises as a faulty expression of anger or frustration and is not directed at control of the partner.\n\nBased on the primary distinction of coercive control, Johnson identifies four patterns of relationship violence: Intimate terrorism in which an individual is violent and controlling and their partner is not; violent resistance in which an individual is violent, but not controlling in response to their partners controlling violence; situational couple violence where violence often occurs bi-directionlly, but neither partner is both violent and controlling; and mutual violent control where both partners are violent and controlling.\n\nReciprocal Aggression\n\nSituational couple violence is the most common form of relationship violence representing by some measures 80% of the cases of IPV in general population studies. It generally does not involve any attempt to gain control of the partner or relationship, is most commonly situationally provoked, is less severe in its expression and outcomes, tends to be a singular event, and is commonly self-resolving. It is best conceptualized as an escalating mutual conflict that gets out of hand due to the personality traits of the couple, situational circumstances, and limitations in the behavioral repertoire or skills deficit of the couple. This form of relational violence also exhibits a preponderance of mutual instigation and provocation of both direct and indirect aggression. Aggression and violence in most relationships where such incidences occur in other words, is bi-directional, reciprocal, and largely symmetrical in its constitution if not its outcomes and consequences. One in six married couples experience at least one case of situational violence in the course of their relationship. Fiebert (2009) compiled more than 270 empirical studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate some level of gender mutuality of IPV as part of their findings. One of the largest studies conducted supporting Johnson’s typology found bi-directional and mutual patterns of perpetration and revealed similarities in both male and female victimization.  Some findings also contradict the widely held view that bidirectional violence does not equate to mutual victimization in the form of injury, trauma, or fear They found similar rates of injury and fear of a partner for both men and women in violent relationships although severity of injury was more pronounced for women as the frequency and severity of aggression (both their own and their partner’s) increased.\n\nIntimate terrorism on the other hand is violence embedded in systematic coercive control and typically conceived as perpetrated by males on female partners. The use of coercive control tactics is most prominent in unilateral and mutual controlling relationships along with the violent resistance that sometimes accompanies these typologies. Exerting control is not the primary concern in more common situational instances. Much confusion occurs in studies when a particular typology is implicitly linked to IPV research data particularly when coercive types of violence are used as benchmarks and show themselves as persistent, unidirectional, severe, and gendered.\n\nDutton et al. (2005) suggested that the measurement of coercive control present in IPV incidences consists of interrelated scales of demands for compliance that an aggressor places upon their partner, coercive factors directed at harming or threatening harm to the partner, to the self, or to others, and surveillance tactics directed at monitoring compliance with demands. They concluded that “the coercion in which an assault is imbedded helps to define its level of severity” (p. 2) and as such should be assessed as part of the broader evaluation of IPV incidences and the potential direct and indirect responses to such coercive control by the recipient partner leading to violent resistance.\n\nTo recap, coercive control is the key factor separating the primary forms of partner violence. Violence when used systematically and coercively is an instrumental violence utilized by the controlling partner to dominate and completely control the household and relationship. It is also part of a pattern of tactics used to control the other partner’s thoughts and actions within the structure of the relationship. Control is achieved by the use of threats and intimidation, by undermining the partners will to resist through continual justification and legitimation for violent actions and by shifting blame to the other, by undermining the ability to resist via controlling and blocking access to resources needed for resistance, and by constant surveillance and monitoring to catch transgressions.\n\nThe predisposition to avoid either agency or general population surveys constructs differing perceptions of IPV. As a result of this organic bias, violence documented in general survey samples consists mostly of situational couple violence, while the violence in agency samples is mostly intimate partner terrorism and violent resistance. This assertion is upheld by Johnson’s (2006) study that found 89% of general survey samples of those individuals reporting some form of violence could be classified as situational couple violence as opposed to 11% as intimate terrorism whereas 68% of court samples and 79% of shelter samples could be classified as intimate terrorism. This also indicates that existing systems are somewhat effective at capturing severe cases of violence, but may be inadequate in dealing with the majority of IPV cases.\n\nEscalation\n\nFeld and Straus (1989) stated that most researchers and members of the public believe that violent behavior, once begun, tends to continue for the life of the relationship. While the term escalation as used in IPV research is generally used to describe an individual escalatory pattern or tendency for more severe and frequent forms of aggression to be used when more mild actions fail to resolve the conflict, it is important to note that most partners do not escalate from low to high levels of aggression and risk over time. This refutes the commonly held consensus among practitioners that violent partners will, if left unchecked, escalate in frequency and intensity over time. Instead, we find that there are particular, somewhat stable characteristics specific to each type IPV that establish thresholds distinct to each type and that these thresholds make it unlikely that an individual will move from one particular type to another. The mutual and bidirectional nature of aggression due to dyadic conflict in many violent relationships also means that when change [either positive or negative] occurs, it tends in the same direction for each member of the couple indicating that people grow or decline together in the relationship.\n\nPotegal said of the dynamics associated with aggressive acts, that they involve a sequence of behaviors, expressing escalation and de-escalation of the form or intensity of the actions taken, acting out over time. Such acting out can be interpreted economically if decisions to escalate aggression are calculated on potential benefits or risks; psychologically, involving acute emotional states of arousal; or as emergent processes that are spontaneously and dynamically generated by the actions and reactions of the participants. Winstok suggested that researchers should work to replace the terms aggression (violence), perpetrator (aggressor), and victim with escalation, escalator, and de-escalator respectively as a reflection of how the dynamic and process of aggressive escalation often overwhelms the individual actions of the actors in a violent drama. The question of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim becomes instead a question of who increases, decreases, or conserves the severity of violence between the parties.\n\nRegulating Factors\n\nEhrensaft and Vivian (1999) found that among couples with a history of aggressive and controlling behavior restrictive or limiting behaviors are often interpreted as normal. They found that “individuals who had either engaged in or received partner aggression appraised restrictive, domineering, and coercive behaviors from a partner as less controlling than individuals who had neither perpetrated nor received partner aggression.” They further go on to suggest that individuals who do not have a history of aggression would be more likely to extract themselves quickly from a relationship with an aggressive partner as they would recognize the controlling nature of the behavior and be reluctant to remain in such a relationship.\n\nIt has been shown that use of coercion in relationships rises dramatically as relationship satisfaction declines, and is accompanied with an increased use of indirect communication and aggression strategies. The prognosis however for a couple that remains on a trajectory of coercion, aggression, and violence is that the relationship will eventually dissolve even if the couple has heavy commitments or limited economic resources. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals involved in violent relationships either escape by leaving their partner or by changing their own and their partner’s behavior over time, or by naturally reducing in conflict and violence over time with the age of the individuals, a couple’s commitment to better relational skills if they stay together, or the evolution of the relationship status to more perceived stable states.\n\nThe highest incidence of IPV occurs in youth and decreases over time and the length of time a couple spends living together has a significant impact on the potential for divergence of their perceptions of conflict, thus on the quality of the relationship and on the expression of aggression. Dramatic decreases of physical aggression year over year were recorded in a study of violent couples with typically more than half of physically aggressive partners desisting from one yearly assessment to the next without any obvious external influences. Couples with a more positive relational foundation and history together are also more successful at shifting away from mutually destructive behavior. The premise that violence will eventually end the relationship and that individuals will regulate their own tolerance for violent and coercive behavior is upheld in findings that show that the vast majority of situational couple violence cases are in relationships of a current spouse/partner whereas the preponderance of cases classified as intimate terrorism are associated with a former spouse/partner. \n\nWhile cases of intimate terrorism tend to escalate or remain stable over time, eventually leading to the termination of the relationship or drawing the attention of law enforcement, the episodic nature of situational couple violence means that couples are less likely to engage in help-seeking as a coping tactic. Almost all such cases of situational violence are atypical for the relationship, rapidly diminish in frequency, and will remit on their own over time, demonstrating a high level of regulatory function to the concurrence of conflict and violence. This regulation extends as well to the severity of outcomes of such incidences considering that the the high frequency of physical aggression apparently existing in many relationships has a correspondingly low probability of an injury occurring, suggesting that couples that engage in physical aggression do so within specific, rule-based bounds. \n\nIPV for the most part is engaged in examining coercive power in relationship that due to its pathological origins creates resistance—often violent—and over time decreases attraction as evidenced by high incidences of relationship termination. The ability of partners to utilize various strategies in the exercise of power and personal efficacy in the relationship can have a profound impact on the trajectory of a specific conflict and the relationship as a whole over time. It is inequalities of power (both personal and social), not gender specifically that determines decision making, effects relationship satisfaction, and regulates how both women and men try to influence their partner through direct or indirect and unilateral or bilateral means. \n\nFactors of control and aggression are linked through the need for self-efficacy. Continued attempts and failure to normatively control a partner combined with poor capabilities of self-control may cause the introduction of control behaviors into the repertoire of the couple. From the interpretive framework of aggression, a researcher may distinguish the pervasiveness of aggression and categorize violent relationships based on the severity, frequency, and adverse outcomes presented. From the standpoint of control behaviors, a similar differentiation of mild to severe forms control could still be identified even in the absence of physical aggression. Control in the context of relationship violence then hinges on whether the use of violence is proactive, in that it is used by a partner who has an excessive need for control to gain and keep control, or if it is reactive, in that it is situationally motivated and emotionally explosive violence based on the individual’s need to regain control of themselves by controlling their partner within the given situation. \n\nMany acts of IPV seem to be caused in large part by momentary failures in self-regulation or self-regulatory failures, which refer to individuals’ tendencies to act on their gut-level impulses rather than on well-considered preferences that are better aligned with their long-term goals and preferences. Attachment factors in the form of high levels of emotional interdependence in intimate relationships provide one compelling explanation for high rates of violence emerging from relationship conflict compared to other forms of conflict. The opportunities for elevated levels of verbal conflict, that often portend violence in distressed relationships, along with a highly interdependent relationship, where the motivation for influencing or even coercing a partner is high, sets the stage for conflicting interests to arise and will often predict higher levels of IPV. Violent impulses may well emerge more frequently and more powerfully toward intimate partners than toward other individuals in large part because of the strong interdependence characteristic of such partnerships . . . which renders conflict an inevitable—though often unanticipated—feature of close relationships. For the most part, evidence indicates that most people who are vulnerable to violent impulses during conflicts with their partner are able to inhibit acts of aggression, but may eventually succumb under certain circumstances where there is a failure of self-regulation. Finkel looked at factors of dispositional self-control, the availability of cognitive processing time, and the depletion or bolstering of self-regulatory resources to elucidate how such factors may play a pivotal role in determining if violent impulses translate into violent behavior against a partner. He found that, individuals will only perpetrate IPV when the violence-impelling forces they experience at that time exceed the violence-inhibiting forces. Once violence-impelling forces surpass violence-inhibiting forces, however, the individual will often perpetrate IPV. He also adds that any additional factors that reinforce or strengthen impelling forces already exceeding a person’s threshold of inhibition will tend to further influence the form and intensity of violent acts.\n\nThe Red Line\n\nThere are indications that control behaviors, similar to expressions of aggression operate within a bounded framework. While the need to control a partner co-occurs with issues of self-control in many IPV incidences, situational/reactive forms tend to culminate in verbal assaults as both an expression of aggression and as a control behavior whereas terrorist/proactive forms utilize both threats of physical violence and actual physical violence for the same purpose. Indeed, in the case of proactive violence, the individual’s need to control was linked more directly to threats of violence and physical aggression than to loss of self-control and verbal aggression as it is with reactive violence. From the normative angle in partner control, it seems that self-control incapability and verbal aggression are tolerable norms whereas threats and actual physical violence contradict acceptable standards and are not to be tolerated. A distinct line divides between what is to be tolerated and what is to be rejected. The weak co-occurrence of verbal aggression with threats of physical violence indicates a regulating “red-line” that most individuals generally do not cross over in moving from verbal aggression to threats and threats with physical violence.\n\nBandura said:\nIn the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guide s and deterrents for conduct. In this self-regulatory process, people monitor their conduct and the conditions under which it occurs, judge it in relation to their moral standards and perceived circumstances, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves.\n\nRifkin stated that recent advances in biological sciences demonstrate that human beings are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship rather than for aggression, violence, self-interest, and utilitarianism. He claimed that the individual’s primary motivation is the empathic drive to belong rather than to gain power and control. Is it possible, he asked, that human beings are not inherently evil or intrinsically self-interested or materialistic, but are of a very different nature—an empathic one—and that all of the other drives that we have considered to be primary—aggression, violence, selfish behavior, acquisitiveness—are in fact secondary drives that flow from repression or denial of our most basic instinct? (p. 18)\n\nAttitudes and Beliefs\n\nThe benchmarks for acceptable behavior, including the use of control and aggression, are subject to factors of time, place, and tradition. Threats of violence and acts of physical violence are widely seen as contradictory to acceptable standards of relationship behavior and are not generally tolerated. Verbal and nonphysical aggressions are less definite, particularly in the context of relational and individual deficits mutually contributing to a couple’s distress. There is in several studies evidence of a general acceptance of some level of aggressiveness in relational dyads as, aside from terminating the relationship as a response to violence, many partners either respond reciprocally with their own aggression or don’t see the violence as a particularly alarming or relationship defining issue. While some theories of IPV stress a seeming broad acceptance of violence and coercion as an acceptable tactic in relational conflict resolution or the socialization of men and women into specific roles within the violent relationship, what seems to matter most in the study of IPV is the manifest characteristics of the individual and dynamics of relatedness the couple co-create. Numerous general population studies have found that gender attitudes are not a significant factor of IPV except in cases of intimate terrorism where misogyny is distinctly more prevalent. Finkel also documents a pervading lack of esteem, empowerment, and control in men as violence impelling factors contrary to strong ego elements of esteem and self-control that are violence inhibiting. Findings such as these demonstrate a lack of evidence translating patriarchal power into personal power in the relationship and diminish the viability of direct socio-cultural explanations as a sole framework for IPV.\n\nThe possible responses of a society to IPV, including criminal justice and mental health systems, heavily depends upon what the understanding of IPV is. The image of a passive, helpless, and depressed women paired to a man enacting stereotypes of hypermasculity motivated by the rewards of total control has become the default portrait most often drawn of the violent couple. This image radically bifurcates relationships into those that are nonviolent and those that are violent. In violent relationships, masculinity is suspect, conflict is a struggle for power, and influence is always coercive. Gender, however, as with other characteristics of human beings, takes form in the interaction with others. Aggression is a specific expression of such characteristics that is performed in the context of relationship and the etiology of violence is both more expansive and varied than such limited explanations can endorse.\n\nIntergenerational Transmission\n\nDenzin wrote, The violence that each family of violence makes and experiences has been made and experienced before. It is not purely spontaneous, made under conditions freely chosen. Rather, it is produced and experienced in situations which have been given and handed down to them . . . from . . . countless dead generations, also the victims of a violent past that was inherited.\n\nThe intergenerational transmission of domestic violence has been one of the most enduring and commonly reported influences on aggression generally and in family violence specifically. Much of the research conducted on understanding the origins of violence within the family and positing solutions has used social learning theory to frame the discussion. The conception pivots on mechanisms of modeling in the acquisition of aggressive behavior and posits that the witnessing or observation of violence in the family of origin creates attitudes, ideas, and norms about how, when, and towards whom aggression is appropriate. Couples learn to utilize violence to control a conflict or intimate partner by initially witnessing an attachment figure or role model successfully do the same. This imitative behavior integrates influences from friends and family along with social institutional factors that develop an individual’s attitudes, values, and perceptions toward the use of violence as a control tactic and is further reinforced through the continued association with others who endorse or approve of such control and when greater rewards than costs from using coercive control are anticipated by the individual.\n\nMany early studies of domestic violence encountered a high frequency of parental violence in the families of violent perpetrators. Similarly, several researchers make a strong association between maltreatment as a child and later adult IPV perpetration and victimization by a partner. Both exposure to child abuse and observation of inter-parental spousal violence together further increase the probability of partner aggression for both men and women.\n\nThe consistent presence of coercive interactional processes across dysfunctional parent-child relations, a conduct disordered adolesence, early dating violence, and adult IPV provide the conception for a unified temporal mechanism as patterns of emotional and behavioral self-regulation that are learned and reinforced in the family of origin are applied to subsequent relationships. Attachment processes and the intergenerational transmission of attachment may be blocked by culture-specific rearing conditions and discontinued or altered by major life events such as the loss of attachment figures or damage through deprivation and trauma. The continuity of oppositional, aggressive behavior throughout life may, in other words, account for the linkages of adversities from childhood experiences through to adult IPV experiences.\n\n
  • O’Leary and Slep (2003) asserted that much of the new findings emerging from IPV research is only interpretable in the context of dyadic models that factor in mutual influence exhorted by the couple and that account for the stability of violence in the relationship over time. Fincham (2010) stated that understanding relational conflict itself is crucial given that it is a common precursor to IPV. The frequency and impact of chronic stressors both inside and outside the home has been strongly associated to verbal and psychological aggression along with reductions in relationship satisfaction for both partners that, in turn, sets the stage for a greater likelihood of physical aggression. Partners are far more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Cano and Vivian (2003) also found that stressors associated with loss and threats of loss discriminated between nonviolent and violent couples and between moderately violent and severely violent men and women. Stuart et al. (2006) reported that poor emotional regulation, provocation by a partner, retaliation for past abuse, and self-defense (primarily in severely violent cases)—all situationally and event driven causes—were the most common reasons cited for violence perpetration. This highly contextualized way of conceptualizing relationship violence is fundamentally different, but not incompatible with views focused solely on individuals and their violent behavior. \n\nA feature of contextualized models of IPV is that they distinguish themselves from previous models in seeking to integrate gender as a categorical and variable factor of difference rather than the exegesis of IPV. The mentioned features are critical distinctions in the modeling of IPV research in that all help to open the field to additional dimensions of explanation and the positing of various factors and pathways more in line with a psychotherepeutic framework that is found to be most effective for treatment of IPV situations.\n\nThe emerging aspects of new IPV models direct researchers beyond descriptive evaluations of a violent event that do little to understand the event’s meaning and collective impact or alter its trajectory. Instead, researchers adopting new perspectives of IPV events look at them as relational, interactional, and intersubjective in their scope and motives. They include historical and developmental aspects that add a temporal dimension beyond a snapshot view of individuals and situations. Most importantly perhaps, a collaborative approach is achieved that endeavors to conceive of the individual as a “collective actor situated within the horizon of worldly immanence.” This is a critical differentiation from past methods if research ever hopes to address the mimetic schemas underlying IPV behavior instead of confronting only the ways individuals embody collective cognitions, symbols, and representations of violence at a given historical point in time.\n\nCoercive and expessive control\n\nJewkes wrote, “violence is often deployed as a tactic in relationship conflict as well as being an expression of frustration or anger.” Violence as a tactic may further be included as a common dynamic within relationship interactions as a response to loss of control, unmet dependency needs, anxiety, fears, frustrations, and threats to self-esteem. On the more severe end of the spectrum are potential actions that are also associated with particular disorders of the personality. Winstok elaborated that the motivation for controlling a situation can lead individuals to utilize nonlegitimate forceful action directed at harming its target. Motive, action, and consequences are thus all factors to be considered in assessing relationship violence. \n\nThe connections between motivations for control and coercive behavior as a means of obtaining control is present in most definitions of violence in relationships. A recent study concluded, “control and aggression are two conceptualizations of the same phenomenon, rather than two distinct, yet interrelated, concepts.” The degree to which an individual needs to control a partner by regulating the partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is negatively correlated with ability for self-control and that both of these forms of control (self and partner) are representations of personal control and attempts at upholding a sense of personal efficacy or mastery. Personal control is a prerequisite for and individuals’ ability to plan and maintain their life environment in such a way that it meets their needs,” and “includes the ability to alter the course of events in their lives” (p. 170). \n\nBandura wrote:\nTo realize their aims, people try to exercise control over the events that affect their lives. They have a stronger incentive to act if they believe that control is possible— that their actions will be effective. Perceived self-efficacy, or a belief in one's personal capabilities, regulates human functioning. \n\nBandura (1997) tied the regulatory effects of perceived self-efficacy to not only cognitive and motivational function, but also demonstrated that loss of this perception has negative consequences for affect regulation including increased levels of anxiety and depression that have also been tied to IPV episodes. It is necessary for the individual to retain a sense of mastery in a relationship. Experiencing loss of control over one’s environment threatens the sense of mastery and elicits attempts to regain it through the use of controlling behaviors (e.g., aggression) toward others (e.g., intimate partners). \n\nIn other words, it appears a heightened need to control combined with a reduced ability for self-control creates an environment for more frequent and severe violent behaviors. \n\nWinstok and Perkis (2009) differentiated the individual’s need for control from motivation for control as an aspect of obtaining dominance. While the need to control a partner or the capability for regulating one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in interpersonal conflict may not lead to violence or constitute abuse in every case, the use of coercive control consisting of violence and threats of violence to maintain a position of power within the relationship is a configuration that appears most commonly in the most extreme cases and raises no doubt as to its abusive nature. \n\nA coercively controlling partner also works to legitimize and justify their actions in the context of the violent relationship, maintaining that they have the right to act in a violent way. Bandura described this phenomenon as a moral disengagement of the aggressing individual achieved through the cognitive restructuring of the violent and abusive behavior to fit their sense of morality.\n\nAccording to Johnson, it is the combination of any level of violence accompanied by high coercive control that defines what he calls intimate terrorism.\n\nTypology of IPV\n\nJohnson (2008) in establishing a typology of domestic violence utilizes the connections between individual incidences of violence and a general pattern of coercive control to distinguish between primary types of relationship violence. While Johnson used the presence of controlling tactics in differentiating typologies, he also asserted that violence is not exclusively motivated by a need or desire to gain or resist control in relationships experiencing violence. Violence is one of many tactics that might be aimed at exerting control (either partial or total) in a relationship. Violence also occurs when there is no intention of controlling the partner. Often, violence arises as a faulty expression of anger or frustration and is not directed at control of the partner.\n\nBased on the primary distinction of coercive control, Johnson identifies four patterns of relationship violence: Intimate terrorism in which an individual is violent and controlling and their partner is not; violent resistance in which an individual is violent, but not controlling in response to their partners controlling violence; situational couple violence where violence often occurs bi-directionlly, but neither partner is both violent and controlling; and mutual violent control where both partners are violent and controlling.\n\nReciprocal Aggression\n\nSituational couple violence is the most common form of relationship violence representing by some measures 80% of the cases of IPV in general population studies. It generally does not involve any attempt to gain control of the partner or relationship, is most commonly situationally provoked, is less severe in its expression and outcomes, tends to be a singular event, and is commonly self-resolving. It is best conceptualized as an escalating mutual conflict that gets out of hand due to the personality traits of the couple, situational circumstances, and limitations in the behavioral repertoire or skills deficit of the couple. This form of relational violence also exhibits a preponderance of mutual instigation and provocation of both direct and indirect aggression. Aggression and violence in most relationships where such incidences occur in other words, is bi-directional, reciprocal, and largely symmetrical in its constitution if not its outcomes and consequences. One in six married couples experience at least one case of situational violence in the course of their relationship. Fiebert (2009) compiled more than 270 empirical studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate some level of gender mutuality of IPV as part of their findings. One of the largest studies conducted supporting Johnson’s typology found bi-directional and mutual patterns of perpetration and revealed similarities in both male and female victimization.  Some findings also contradict the widely held view that bidirectional violence does not equate to mutual victimization in the form of injury, trauma, or fear They found similar rates of injury and fear of a partner for both men and women in violent relationships although severity of injury was more pronounced for women as the frequency and severity of aggression (both their own and their partner’s) increased.\n\nIntimate terrorism on the other hand is violence embedded in systematic coercive control and typically conceived as perpetrated by males on female partners. The use of coercive control tactics is most prominent in unilateral and mutual controlling relationships along with the violent resistance that sometimes accompanies these typologies. Exerting control is not the primary concern in more common situational instances. Much confusion occurs in studies when a particular typology is implicitly linked to IPV research data particularly when coercive types of violence are used as benchmarks and show themselves as persistent, unidirectional, severe, and gendered.\n\nDutton et al. (2005) suggested that the measurement of coercive control present in IPV incidences consists of interrelated scales of demands for compliance that an aggressor places upon their partner, coercive factors directed at harming or threatening harm to the partner, to the self, or to others, and surveillance tactics directed at monitoring compliance with demands. They concluded that “the coercion in which an assault is imbedded helps to define its level of severity” (p. 2) and as such should be assessed as part of the broader evaluation of IPV incidences and the potential direct and indirect responses to such coercive control by the recipient partner leading to violent resistance.\n\nTo recap, coercive control is the key factor separating the primary forms of partner violence. Violence when used systematically and coercively is an instrumental violence utilized by the controlling partner to dominate and completely control the household and relationship. It is also part of a pattern of tactics used to control the other partner’s thoughts and actions within the structure of the relationship. Control is achieved by the use of threats and intimidation, by undermining the partners will to resist through continual justification and legitimation for violent actions and by shifting blame to the other, by undermining the ability to resist via controlling and blocking access to resources needed for resistance, and by constant surveillance and monitoring to catch transgressions.\n\nThe predisposition to avoid either agency or general population surveys constructs differing perceptions of IPV. As a result of this organic bias, violence documented in general survey samples consists mostly of situational couple violence, while the violence in agency samples is mostly intimate partner terrorism and violent resistance. This assertion is upheld by Johnson’s (2006) study that found 89% of general survey samples of those individuals reporting some form of violence could be classified as situational couple violence as opposed to 11% as intimate terrorism whereas 68% of court samples and 79% of shelter samples could be classified as intimate terrorism. This also indicates that existing systems are somewhat effective at capturing severe cases of violence, but may be inadequate in dealing with the majority of IPV cases.\n\nEscalation\n\nFeld and Straus (1989) stated that most researchers and members of the public believe that violent behavior, once begun, tends to continue for the life of the relationship. While the term escalation as used in IPV research is generally used to describe an individual escalatory pattern or tendency for more severe and frequent forms of aggression to be used when more mild actions fail to resolve the conflict, it is important to note that most partners do not escalate from low to high levels of aggression and risk over time. This refutes the commonly held consensus among practitioners that violent partners will, if left unchecked, escalate in frequency and intensity over time. Instead, we find that there are particular, somewhat stable characteristics specific to each type IPV that establish thresholds distinct to each type and that these thresholds make it unlikely that an individual will move from one particular type to another. The mutual and bidirectional nature of aggression due to dyadic conflict in many violent relationships also means that when change [either positive or negative] occurs, it tends in the same direction for each member of the couple indicating that people grow or decline together in the relationship.\n\nPotegal said of the dynamics associated with aggressive acts, that they involve a sequence of behaviors, expressing escalation and de-escalation of the form or intensity of the actions taken, acting out over time. Such acting out can be interpreted economically if decisions to escalate aggression are calculated on potential benefits or risks; psychologically, involving acute emotional states of arousal; or as emergent processes that are spontaneously and dynamically generated by the actions and reactions of the participants. Winstok suggested that researchers should work to replace the terms aggression (violence), perpetrator (aggressor), and victim with escalation, escalator, and de-escalator respectively as a reflection of how the dynamic and process of aggressive escalation often overwhelms the individual actions of the actors in a violent drama. The question of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim becomes instead a question of who increases, decreases, or conserves the severity of violence between the parties.\n\nRegulating Factors\n\nEhrensaft and Vivian (1999) found that among couples with a history of aggressive and controlling behavior restrictive or limiting behaviors are often interpreted as normal. They found that “individuals who had either engaged in or received partner aggression appraised restrictive, domineering, and coercive behaviors from a partner as less controlling than individuals who had neither perpetrated nor received partner aggression.” They further go on to suggest that individuals who do not have a history of aggression would be more likely to extract themselves quickly from a relationship with an aggressive partner as they would recognize the controlling nature of the behavior and be reluctant to remain in such a relationship.\n\nIt has been shown that use of coercion in relationships rises dramatically as relationship satisfaction declines, and is accompanied with an increased use of indirect communication and aggression strategies. The prognosis however for a couple that remains on a trajectory of coercion, aggression, and violence is that the relationship will eventually dissolve even if the couple has heavy commitments or limited economic resources. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals involved in violent relationships either escape by leaving their partner or by changing their own and their partner’s behavior over time, or by naturally reducing in conflict and violence over time with the age of the individuals, a couple’s commitment to better relational skills if they stay together, or the evolution of the relationship status to more perceived stable states.\n\nThe highest incidence of IPV occurs in youth and decreases over time and the length of time a couple spends living together has a significant impact on the potential for divergence of their perceptions of conflict, thus on the quality of the relationship and on the expression of aggression. Dramatic decreases of physical aggression year over year were recorded in a study of violent couples with typically more than half of physically aggressive partners desisting from one yearly assessment to the next without any obvious external influences. Couples with a more positive relational foundation and history together are also more successful at shifting away from mutually destructive behavior. The premise that violence will eventually end the relationship and that individuals will regulate their own tolerance for violent and coercive behavior is upheld in findings that show that the vast majority of situational couple violence cases are in relationships of a current spouse/partner whereas the preponderance of cases classified as intimate terrorism are associated with a former spouse/partner. \n\nWhile cases of intimate terrorism tend to escalate or remain stable over time, eventually leading to the termination of the relationship or drawing the attention of law enforcement, the episodic nature of situational couple violence means that couples are less likely to engage in help-seeking as a coping tactic. Almost all such cases of situational violence are atypical for the relationship, rapidly diminish in frequency, and will remit on their own over time, demonstrating a high level of regulatory function to the concurrence of conflict and violence. This regulation extends as well to the severity of outcomes of such incidences considering that the the high frequency of physical aggression apparently existing in many relationships has a correspondingly low probability of an injury occurring, suggesting that couples that engage in physical aggression do so within specific, rule-based bounds. \n\nIPV for the most part is engaged in examining coercive power in relationship that due to its pathological origins creates resistance—often violent—and over time decreases attraction as evidenced by high incidences of relationship termination. The ability of partners to utilize various strategies in the exercise of power and personal efficacy in the relationship can have a profound impact on the trajectory of a specific conflict and the relationship as a whole over time. It is inequalities of power (both personal and social), not gender specifically that determines decision making, effects relationship satisfaction, and regulates how both women and men try to influence their partner through direct or indirect and unilateral or bilateral means. \n\nFactors of control and aggression are linked through the need for self-efficacy. Continued attempts and failure to normatively control a partner combined with poor capabilities of self-control may cause the introduction of control behaviors into the repertoire of the couple. From the interpretive framework of aggression, a researcher may distinguish the pervasiveness of aggression and categorize violent relationships based on the severity, frequency, and adverse outcomes presented. From the standpoint of control behaviors, a similar differentiation of mild to severe forms control could still be identified even in the absence of physical aggression. Control in the context of relationship violence then hinges on whether the use of violence is proactive, in that it is used by a partner who has an excessive need for control to gain and keep control, or if it is reactive, in that it is situationally motivated and emotionally explosive violence based on the individual’s need to regain control of themselves by controlling their partner within the given situation. \n\nMany acts of IPV seem to be caused in large part by momentary failures in self-regulation or self-regulatory failures, which refer to individuals’ tendencies to act on their gut-level impulses rather than on well-considered preferences that are better aligned with their long-term goals and preferences. Attachment factors in the form of high levels of emotional interdependence in intimate relationships provide one compelling explanation for high rates of violence emerging from relationship conflict compared to other forms of conflict. The opportunities for elevated levels of verbal conflict, that often portend violence in distressed relationships, along with a highly interdependent relationship, where the motivation for influencing or even coercing a partner is high, sets the stage for conflicting interests to arise and will often predict higher levels of IPV. Violent impulses may well emerge more frequently and more powerfully toward intimate partners than toward other individuals in large part because of the strong interdependence characteristic of such partnerships . . . which renders conflict an inevitable—though often unanticipated—feature of close relationships. For the most part, evidence indicates that most people who are vulnerable to violent impulses during conflicts with their partner are able to inhibit acts of aggression, but may eventually succumb under certain circumstances where there is a failure of self-regulation. Finkel looked at factors of dispositional self-control, the availability of cognitive processing time, and the depletion or bolstering of self-regulatory resources to elucidate how such factors may play a pivotal role in determining if violent impulses translate into violent behavior against a partner. He found that, individuals will only perpetrate IPV when the violence-impelling forces they experience at that time exceed the violence-inhibiting forces. Once violence-impelling forces surpass violence-inhibiting forces, however, the individual will often perpetrate IPV. He also adds that any additional factors that reinforce or strengthen impelling forces already exceeding a person’s threshold of inhibition will tend to further influence the form and intensity of violent acts.\n\nThe Red Line\n\nThere are indications that control behaviors, similar to expressions of aggression operate within a bounded framework. While the need to control a partner co-occurs with issues of self-control in many IPV incidences, situational/reactive forms tend to culminate in verbal assaults as both an expression of aggression and as a control behavior whereas terrorist/proactive forms utilize both threats of physical violence and actual physical violence for the same purpose. Indeed, in the case of proactive violence, the individual’s need to control was linked more directly to threats of violence and physical aggression than to loss of self-control and verbal aggression as it is with reactive violence. From the normative angle in partner control, it seems that self-control incapability and verbal aggression are tolerable norms whereas threats and actual physical violence contradict acceptable standards and are not to be tolerated. A distinct line divides between what is to be tolerated and what is to be rejected. The weak co-occurrence of verbal aggression with threats of physical violence indicates a regulating “red-line” that most individuals generally do not cross over in moving from verbal aggression to threats and threats with physical violence.\n\nBandura said:\nIn the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guide s and deterrents for conduct. In this self-regulatory process, people monitor their conduct and the conditions under which it occurs, judge it in relation to their moral standards and perceived circumstances, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves.\n\nRifkin stated that recent advances in biological sciences demonstrate that human beings are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship rather than for aggression, violence, self-interest, and utilitarianism. He claimed that the individual’s primary motivation is the empathic drive to belong rather than to gain power and control. Is it possible, he asked, that human beings are not inherently evil or intrinsically self-interested or materialistic, but are of a very different nature—an empathic one—and that all of the other drives that we have considered to be primary—aggression, violence, selfish behavior, acquisitiveness—are in fact secondary drives that flow from repression or denial of our most basic instinct? (p. 18)\n\nAttitudes and Beliefs\n\nThe benchmarks for acceptable behavior, including the use of control and aggression, are subject to factors of time, place, and tradition. Threats of violence and acts of physical violence are widely seen as contradictory to acceptable standards of relationship behavior and are not generally tolerated. Verbal and nonphysical aggressions are less definite, particularly in the context of relational and individual deficits mutually contributing to a couple’s distress. There is in several studies evidence of a general acceptance of some level of aggressiveness in relational dyads as, aside from terminating the relationship as a response to violence, many partners either respond reciprocally with their own aggression or don’t see the violence as a particularly alarming or relationship defining issue. While some theories of IPV stress a seeming broad acceptance of violence and coercion as an acceptable tactic in relational conflict resolution or the socialization of men and women into specific roles within the violent relationship, what seems to matter most in the study of IPV is the manifest characteristics of the individual and dynamics of relatedness the couple co-create. Numerous general population studies have found that gender attitudes are not a significant factor of IPV except in cases of intimate terrorism where misogyny is distinctly more prevalent. Finkel also documents a pervading lack of esteem, empowerment, and control in men as violence impelling factors contrary to strong ego elements of esteem and self-control that are violence inhibiting. Findings such as these demonstrate a lack of evidence translating patriarchal power into personal power in the relationship and diminish the viability of direct socio-cultural explanations as a sole framework for IPV.\n\nThe possible responses of a society to IPV, including criminal justice and mental health systems, heavily depends upon what the understanding of IPV is. The image of a passive, helpless, and depressed women paired to a man enacting stereotypes of hypermasculity motivated by the rewards of total control has become the default portrait most often drawn of the violent couple. This image radically bifurcates relationships into those that are nonviolent and those that are violent. In violent relationships, masculinity is suspect, conflict is a struggle for power, and influence is always coercive. Gender, however, as with other characteristics of human beings, takes form in the interaction with others. Aggression is a specific expression of such characteristics that is performed in the context of relationship and the etiology of violence is both more expansive and varied than such limited explanations can endorse.\n\nIntergenerational Transmission\n\nDenzin wrote, The violence that each family of violence makes and experiences has been made and experienced before. It is not purely spontaneous, made under conditions freely chosen. Rather, it is produced and experienced in situations which have been given and handed down to them . . . from . . . countless dead generations, also the victims of a violent past that was inherited.\n\nThe intergenerational transmission of domestic violence has been one of the most enduring and commonly reported influences on aggression generally and in family violence specifically. Much of the research conducted on understanding the origins of violence within the family and positing solutions has used social learning theory to frame the discussion. The conception pivots on mechanisms of modeling in the acquisition of aggressive behavior and posits that the witnessing or observation of violence in the family of origin creates attitudes, ideas, and norms about how, when, and towards whom aggression is appropriate. Couples learn to utilize violence to control a conflict or intimate partner by initially witnessing an attachment figure or role model successfully do the same. This imitative behavior integrates influences from friends and family along with social institutional factors that develop an individual’s attitudes, values, and perceptions toward the use of violence as a control tactic and is further reinforced through the continued association with others who endorse or approve of such control and when greater rewards than costs from using coercive control are anticipated by the individual.\n\nMany early studies of domestic violence encountered a high frequency of parental violence in the families of violent perpetrators. Similarly, several researchers make a strong association between maltreatment as a child and later adult IPV perpetration and victimization by a partner. Both exposure to child abuse and observation of inter-parental spousal violence together further increase the probability of partner aggression for both men and women.\n\nThe consistent presence of coercive interactional processes across dysfunctional parent-child relations, a conduct disordered adolesence, early dating violence, and adult IPV provide the conception for a unified temporal mechanism as patterns of emotional and behavioral self-regulation that are learned and reinforced in the family of origin are applied to subsequent relationships. Attachment processes and the intergenerational transmission of attachment may be blocked by culture-specific rearing conditions and discontinued or altered by major life events such as the loss of attachment figures or damage through deprivation and trauma. The continuity of oppositional, aggressive behavior throughout life may, in other words, account for the linkages of adversities from childhood experiences through to adult IPV experiences.\n\n
  • O’Leary and Slep (2003) asserted that much of the new findings emerging from IPV research is only interpretable in the context of dyadic models that factor in mutual influence exhorted by the couple and that account for the stability of violence in the relationship over time. Fincham (2010) stated that understanding relational conflict itself is crucial given that it is a common precursor to IPV. The frequency and impact of chronic stressors both inside and outside the home has been strongly associated to verbal and psychological aggression along with reductions in relationship satisfaction for both partners that, in turn, sets the stage for a greater likelihood of physical aggression. Partners are far more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Cano and Vivian (2003) also found that stressors associated with loss and threats of loss discriminated between nonviolent and violent couples and between moderately violent and severely violent men and women. Stuart et al. (2006) reported that poor emotional regulation, provocation by a partner, retaliation for past abuse, and self-defense (primarily in severely violent cases)—all situationally and event driven causes—were the most common reasons cited for violence perpetration. This highly contextualized way of conceptualizing relationship violence is fundamentally different, but not incompatible with views focused solely on individuals and their violent behavior. \n\nA feature of contextualized models of IPV is that they distinguish themselves from previous models in seeking to integrate gender as a categorical and variable factor of difference rather than the exegesis of IPV. The mentioned features are critical distinctions in the modeling of IPV research in that all help to open the field to additional dimensions of explanation and the positing of various factors and pathways more in line with a psychotherepeutic framework that is found to be most effective for treatment of IPV situations.\n\nThe emerging aspects of new IPV models direct researchers beyond descriptive evaluations of a violent event that do little to understand the event’s meaning and collective impact or alter its trajectory. Instead, researchers adopting new perspectives of IPV events look at them as relational, interactional, and intersubjective in their scope and motives. They include historical and developmental aspects that add a temporal dimension beyond a snapshot view of individuals and situations. Most importantly perhaps, a collaborative approach is achieved that endeavors to conceive of the individual as a “collective actor situated within the horizon of worldly immanence.” This is a critical differentiation from past methods if research ever hopes to address the mimetic schemas underlying IPV behavior instead of confronting only the ways individuals embody collective cognitions, symbols, and representations of violence at a given historical point in time.\n\nCoercive and expessive control\n\nJewkes wrote, “violence is often deployed as a tactic in relationship conflict as well as being an expression of frustration or anger.” Violence as a tactic may further be included as a common dynamic within relationship interactions as a response to loss of control, unmet dependency needs, anxiety, fears, frustrations, and threats to self-esteem. On the more severe end of the spectrum are potential actions that are also associated with particular disorders of the personality. Winstok elaborated that the motivation for controlling a situation can lead individuals to utilize nonlegitimate forceful action directed at harming its target. Motive, action, and consequences are thus all factors to be considered in assessing relationship violence. \n\nThe connections between motivations for control and coercive behavior as a means of obtaining control is present in most definitions of violence in relationships. A recent study concluded, “control and aggression are two conceptualizations of the same phenomenon, rather than two distinct, yet interrelated, concepts.” The degree to which an individual needs to control a partner by regulating the partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is negatively correlated with ability for self-control and that both of these forms of control (self and partner) are representations of personal control and attempts at upholding a sense of personal efficacy or mastery. Personal control is a prerequisite for and individuals’ ability to plan and maintain their life environment in such a way that it meets their needs,” and “includes the ability to alter the course of events in their lives” (p. 170). \n\nBandura wrote:\nTo realize their aims, people try to exercise control over the events that affect their lives. They have a stronger incentive to act if they believe that control is possible— that their actions will be effective. Perceived self-efficacy, or a belief in one's personal capabilities, regulates human functioning. \n\nBandura (1997) tied the regulatory effects of perceived self-efficacy to not only cognitive and motivational function, but also demonstrated that loss of this perception has negative consequences for affect regulation including increased levels of anxiety and depression that have also been tied to IPV episodes. It is necessary for the individual to retain a sense of mastery in a relationship. Experiencing loss of control over one’s environment threatens the sense of mastery and elicits attempts to regain it through the use of controlling behaviors (e.g., aggression) toward others (e.g., intimate partners). \n\nIn other words, it appears a heightened need to control combined with a reduced ability for self-control creates an environment for more frequent and severe violent behaviors. \n\nWinstok and Perkis (2009) differentiated the individual’s need for control from motivation for control as an aspect of obtaining dominance. While the need to control a partner or the capability for regulating one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in interpersonal conflict may not lead to violence or constitute abuse in every case, the use of coercive control consisting of violence and threats of violence to maintain a position of power within the relationship is a configuration that appears most commonly in the most extreme cases and raises no doubt as to its abusive nature. \n\nA coercively controlling partner also works to legitimize and justify their actions in the context of the violent relationship, maintaining that they have the right to act in a violent way. Bandura described this phenomenon as a moral disengagement of the aggressing individual achieved through the cognitive restructuring of the violent and abusive behavior to fit their sense of morality.\n\nAccording to Johnson, it is the combination of any level of violence accompanied by high coercive control that defines what he calls intimate terrorism.\n\nTypology of IPV\n\nJohnson (2008) in establishing a typology of domestic violence utilizes the connections between individual incidences of violence and a general pattern of coercive control to distinguish between primary types of relationship violence. While Johnson used the presence of controlling tactics in differentiating typologies, he also asserted that violence is not exclusively motivated by a need or desire to gain or resist control in relationships experiencing violence. Violence is one of many tactics that might be aimed at exerting control (either partial or total) in a relationship. Violence also occurs when there is no intention of controlling the partner. Often, violence arises as a faulty expression of anger or frustration and is not directed at control of the partner.\n\nBased on the primary distinction of coercive control, Johnson identifies four patterns of relationship violence: Intimate terrorism in which an individual is violent and controlling and their partner is not; violent resistance in which an individual is violent, but not controlling in response to their partners controlling violence; situational couple violence where violence often occurs bi-directionlly, but neither partner is both violent and controlling; and mutual violent control where both partners are violent and controlling.\n\nReciprocal Aggression\n\nSituational couple violence is the most common form of relationship violence representing by some measures 80% of the cases of IPV in general population studies. It generally does not involve any attempt to gain control of the partner or relationship, is most commonly situationally provoked, is less severe in its expression and outcomes, tends to be a singular event, and is commonly self-resolving. It is best conceptualized as an escalating mutual conflict that gets out of hand due to the personality traits of the couple, situational circumstances, and limitations in the behavioral repertoire or skills deficit of the couple. This form of relational violence also exhibits a preponderance of mutual instigation and provocation of both direct and indirect aggression. Aggression and violence in most relationships where such incidences occur in other words, is bi-directional, reciprocal, and largely symmetrical in its constitution if not its outcomes and consequences. One in six married couples experience at least one case of situational violence in the course of their relationship. Fiebert (2009) compiled more than 270 empirical studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate some level of gender mutuality of IPV as part of their findings. One of the largest studies conducted supporting Johnson’s typology found bi-directional and mutual patterns of perpetration and revealed similarities in both male and female victimization.  Some findings also contradict the widely held view that bidirectional violence does not equate to mutual victimization in the form of injury, trauma, or fear They found similar rates of injury and fear of a partner for both men and women in violent relationships although severity of injury was more pronounced for women as the frequency and severity of aggression (both their own and their partner’s) increased.\n\nIntimate terrorism on the other hand is violence embedded in systematic coercive control and typically conceived as perpetrated by males on female partners. The use of coercive control tactics is most prominent in unilateral and mutual controlling relationships along with the violent resistance that sometimes accompanies these typologies. Exerting control is not the primary concern in more common situational instances. Much confusion occurs in studies when a particular typology is implicitly linked to IPV research data particularly when coercive types of violence are used as benchmarks and show themselves as persistent, unidirectional, severe, and gendered.\n\nDutton et al. (2005) suggested that the measurement of coercive control present in IPV incidences consists of interrelated scales of demands for compliance that an aggressor places upon their partner, coercive factors directed at harming or threatening harm to the partner, to the self, or to others, and surveillance tactics directed at monitoring compliance with demands. They concluded that “the coercion in which an assault is imbedded helps to define its level of severity” (p. 2) and as such should be assessed as part of the broader evaluation of IPV incidences and the potential direct and indirect responses to such coercive control by the recipient partner leading to violent resistance.\n\nTo recap, coercive control is the key factor separating the primary forms of partner violence. Violence when used systematically and coercively is an instrumental violence utilized by the controlling partner to dominate and completely control the household and relationship. It is also part of a pattern of tactics used to control the other partner’s thoughts and actions within the structure of the relationship. Control is achieved by the use of threats and intimidation, by undermining the partners will to resist through continual justification and legitimation for violent actions and by shifting blame to the other, by undermining the ability to resist via controlling and blocking access to resources needed for resistance, and by constant surveillance and monitoring to catch transgressions.\n\nThe predisposition to avoid either agency or general population surveys constructs differing perceptions of IPV. As a result of this organic bias, violence documented in general survey samples consists mostly of situational couple violence, while the violence in agency samples is mostly intimate partner terrorism and violent resistance. This assertion is upheld by Johnson’s (2006) study that found 89% of general survey samples of those individuals reporting some form of violence could be classified as situational couple violence as opposed to 11% as intimate terrorism whereas 68% of court samples and 79% of shelter samples could be classified as intimate terrorism. This also indicates that existing systems are somewhat effective at capturing severe cases of violence, but may be inadequate in dealing with the majority of IPV cases.\n\nEscalation\n\nFeld and Straus (1989) stated that most researchers and members of the public believe that violent behavior, once begun, tends to continue for the life of the relationship. While the term escalation as used in IPV research is generally used to describe an individual escalatory pattern or tendency for more severe and frequent forms of aggression to be used when more mild actions fail to resolve the conflict, it is important to note that most partners do not escalate from low to high levels of aggression and risk over time. This refutes the commonly held consensus among practitioners that violent partners will, if left unchecked, escalate in frequency and intensity over time. Instead, we find that there are particular, somewhat stable characteristics specific to each type IPV that establish thresholds distinct to each type and that these thresholds make it unlikely that an individual will move from one particular type to another. The mutual and bidirectional nature of aggression due to dyadic conflict in many violent relationships also means that when change [either positive or negative] occurs, it tends in the same direction for each member of the couple indicating that people grow or decline together in the relationship.\n\nPotegal said of the dynamics associated with aggressive acts, that they involve a sequence of behaviors, expressing escalation and de-escalation of the form or intensity of the actions taken, acting out over time. Such acting out can be interpreted economically if decisions to escalate aggression are calculated on potential benefits or risks; psychologically, involving acute emotional states of arousal; or as emergent processes that are spontaneously and dynamically generated by the actions and reactions of the participants. Winstok suggested that researchers should work to replace the terms aggression (violence), perpetrator (aggressor), and victim with escalation, escalator, and de-escalator respectively as a reflection of how the dynamic and process of aggressive escalation often overwhelms the individual actions of the actors in a violent drama. The question of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim becomes instead a question of who increases, decreases, or conserves the severity of violence between the parties.\n\nRegulating Factors\n\nEhrensaft and Vivian (1999) found that among couples with a history of aggressive and controlling behavior restrictive or limiting behaviors are often interpreted as normal. They found that “individuals who had either engaged in or received partner aggression appraised restrictive, domineering, and coercive behaviors from a partner as less controlling than individuals who had neither perpetrated nor received partner aggression.” They further go on to suggest that individuals who do not have a history of aggression would be more likely to extract themselves quickly from a relationship with an aggressive partner as they would recognize the controlling nature of the behavior and be reluctant to remain in such a relationship.\n\nIt has been shown that use of coercion in relationships rises dramatically as relationship satisfaction declines, and is accompanied with an increased use of indirect communication and aggression strategies. The prognosis however for a couple that remains on a trajectory of coercion, aggression, and violence is that the relationship will eventually dissolve even if the couple has heavy commitments or limited economic resources. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals involved in violent relationships either escape by leaving their partner or by changing their own and their partner’s behavior over time, or by naturally reducing in conflict and violence over time with the age of the individuals, a couple’s commitment to better relational skills if they stay together, or the evolution of the relationship status to more perceived stable states.\n\nThe highest incidence of IPV occurs in youth and decreases over time and the length of time a couple spends living together has a significant impact on the potential for divergence of their perceptions of conflict, thus on the quality of the relationship and on the expression of aggression. Dramatic decreases of physical aggression year over year were recorded in a study of violent couples with typically more than half of physically aggressive partners desisting from one yearly assessment to the next without any obvious external influences. Couples with a more positive relational foundation and history together are also more successful at shifting away from mutually destructive behavior. The premise that violence will eventually end the relationship and that individuals will regulate their own tolerance for violent and coercive behavior is upheld in findings that show that the vast majority of situational couple violence cases are in relationships of a current spouse/partner whereas the preponderance of cases classified as intimate terrorism are associated with a former spouse/partner. \n\nWhile cases of intimate terrorism tend to escalate or remain stable over time, eventually leading to the termination of the relationship or drawing the attention of law enforcement, the episodic nature of situational couple violence means that couples are less likely to engage in help-seeking as a coping tactic. Almost all such cases of situational violence are atypical for the relationship, rapidly diminish in frequency, and will remit on their own over time, demonstrating a high level of regulatory function to the concurrence of conflict and violence. This regulation extends as well to the severity of outcomes of such incidences considering that the the high frequency of physical aggression apparently existing in many relationships has a correspondingly low probability of an injury occurring, suggesting that couples that engage in physical aggression do so within specific, rule-based bounds. \n\nIPV for the most part is engaged in examining coercive power in relationship that due to its pathological origins creates resistance—often violent—and over time decreases attraction as evidenced by high incidences of relationship termination. The ability of partners to utilize various strategies in the exercise of power and personal efficacy in the relationship can have a profound impact on the trajectory of a specific conflict and the relationship as a whole over time. It is inequalities of power (both personal and social), not gender specifically that determines decision making, effects relationship satisfaction, and regulates how both women and men try to influence their partner through direct or indirect and unilateral or bilateral means. \n\nFactors of control and aggression are linked through the need for self-efficacy. Continued attempts and failure to normatively control a partner combined with poor capabilities of self-control may cause the introduction of control behaviors into the repertoire of the couple. From the interpretive framework of aggression, a researcher may distinguish the pervasiveness of aggression and categorize violent relationships based on the severity, frequency, and adverse outcomes presented. From the standpoint of control behaviors, a similar differentiation of mild to severe forms control could still be identified even in the absence of physical aggression. Control in the context of relationship violence then hinges on whether the use of violence is proactive, in that it is used by a partner who has an excessive need for control to gain and keep control, or if it is reactive, in that it is situationally motivated and emotionally explosive violence based on the individual’s need to regain control of themselves by controlling their partner within the given situation. \n\nMany acts of IPV seem to be caused in large part by momentary failures in self-regulation or self-regulatory failures, which refer to individuals’ tendencies to act on their gut-level impulses rather than on well-considered preferences that are better aligned with their long-term goals and preferences. Attachment factors in the form of high levels of emotional interdependence in intimate relationships provide one compelling explanation for high rates of violence emerging from relationship conflict compared to other forms of conflict. The opportunities for elevated levels of verbal conflict, that often portend violence in distressed relationships, along with a highly interdependent relationship, where the motivation for influencing or even coercing a partner is high, sets the stage for conflicting interests to arise and will often predict higher levels of IPV. Violent impulses may well emerge more frequently and more powerfully toward intimate partners than toward other individuals in large part because of the strong interdependence characteristic of such partnerships . . . which renders conflict an inevitable—though often unanticipated—feature of close relationships. For the most part, evidence indicates that most people who are vulnerable to violent impulses during conflicts with their partner are able to inhibit acts of aggression, but may eventually succumb under certain circumstances where there is a failure of self-regulation. Finkel looked at factors of dispositional self-control, the availability of cognitive processing time, and the depletion or bolstering of self-regulatory resources to elucidate how such factors may play a pivotal role in determining if violent impulses translate into violent behavior against a partner. He found that, individuals will only perpetrate IPV when the violence-impelling forces they experience at that time exceed the violence-inhibiting forces. Once violence-impelling forces surpass violence-inhibiting forces, however, the individual will often perpetrate IPV. He also adds that any additional factors that reinforce or strengthen impelling forces already exceeding a person’s threshold of inhibition will tend to further influence the form and intensity of violent acts.\n\nThe Red Line\n\nThere are indications that control behaviors, similar to expressions of aggression operate within a bounded framework. While the need to control a partner co-occurs with issues of self-control in many IPV incidences, situational/reactive forms tend to culminate in verbal assaults as both an expression of aggression and as a control behavior whereas terrorist/proactive forms utilize both threats of physical violence and actual physical violence for the same purpose. Indeed, in the case of proactive violence, the individual’s need to control was linked more directly to threats of violence and physical aggression than to loss of self-control and verbal aggression as it is with reactive violence. From the normative angle in partner control, it seems that self-control incapability and verbal aggression are tolerable norms whereas threats and actual physical violence contradict acceptable standards and are not to be tolerated. A distinct line divides between what is to be tolerated and what is to be rejected. The weak co-occurrence of verbal aggression with threats of physical violence indicates a regulating “red-line” that most individuals generally do not cross over in moving from verbal aggression to threats and threats with physical violence.\n\nBandura said:\nIn the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guide s and deterrents for conduct. In this self-regulatory process, people monitor their conduct and the conditions under which it occurs, judge it in relation to their moral standards and perceived circumstances, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves.\n\nRifkin stated that recent advances in biological sciences demonstrate that human beings are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship rather than for aggression, violence, self-interest, and utilitarianism. He claimed that the individual’s primary motivation is the empathic drive to belong rather than to gain power and control. Is it possible, he asked, that human beings are not inherently evil or intrinsically self-interested or materialistic, but are of a very different nature—an empathic one—and that all of the other drives that we have considered to be primary—aggression, violence, selfish behavior, acquisitiveness—are in fact secondary drives that flow from repression or denial of our most basic instinct? (p. 18)\n\nAttitudes and Beliefs\n\nThe benchmarks for acceptable behavior, including the use of control and aggression, are subject to factors of time, place, and tradition. Threats of violence and acts of physical violence are widely seen as contradictory to acceptable standards of relationship behavior and are not generally tolerated. Verbal and nonphysical aggressions are less definite, particularly in the context of relational and individual deficits mutually contributing to a couple’s distress. There is in several studies evidence of a general acceptance of some level of aggressiveness in relational dyads as, aside from terminating the relationship as a response to violence, many partners either respond reciprocally with their own aggression or don’t see the violence as a particularly alarming or relationship defining issue. While some theories of IPV stress a seeming broad acceptance of violence and coercion as an acceptable tactic in relational conflict resolution or the socialization of men and women into specific roles within the violent relationship, what seems to matter most in the study of IPV is the manifest characteristics of the individual and dynamics of relatedness the couple co-create. Numerous general population studies have found that gender attitudes are not a significant factor of IPV except in cases of intimate terrorism where misogyny is distinctly more prevalent. Finkel also documents a pervading lack of esteem, empowerment, and control in men as violence impelling factors contrary to strong ego elements of esteem and self-control that are violence inhibiting. Findings such as these demonstrate a lack of evidence translating patriarchal power into personal power in the relationship and diminish the viability of direct socio-cultural explanations as a sole framework for IPV.\n\nThe possible responses of a society to IPV, including criminal justice and mental health systems, heavily depends upon what the understanding of IPV is. The image of a passive, helpless, and depressed women paired to a man enacting stereotypes of hypermasculity motivated by the rewards of total control has become the default portrait most often drawn of the violent couple. This image radically bifurcates relationships into those that are nonviolent and those that are violent. In violent relationships, masculinity is suspect, conflict is a struggle for power, and influence is always coercive. Gender, however, as with other characteristics of human beings, takes form in the interaction with others. Aggression is a specific expression of such characteristics that is performed in the context of relationship and the etiology of violence is both more expansive and varied than such limited explanations can endorse.\n\nIntergenerational Transmission\n\nDenzin wrote, The violence that each family of violence makes and experiences has been made and experienced before. It is not purely spontaneous, made under conditions freely chosen. Rather, it is produced and experienced in situations which have been given and handed down to them . . . from . . . countless dead generations, also the victims of a violent past that was inherited.\n\nThe intergenerational transmission of domestic violence has been one of the most enduring and commonly reported influences on aggression generally and in family violence specifically. Much of the research conducted on understanding the origins of violence within the family and positing solutions has used social learning theory to frame the discussion. The conception pivots on mechanisms of modeling in the acquisition of aggressive behavior and posits that the witnessing or observation of violence in the family of origin creates attitudes, ideas, and norms about how, when, and towards whom aggression is appropriate. Couples learn to utilize violence to control a conflict or intimate partner by initially witnessing an attachment figure or role model successfully do the same. This imitative behavior integrates influences from friends and family along with social institutional factors that develop an individual’s attitudes, values, and perceptions toward the use of violence as a control tactic and is further reinforced through the continued association with others who endorse or approve of such control and when greater rewards than costs from using coercive control are anticipated by the individual.\n\nMany early studies of domestic violence encountered a high frequency of parental violence in the families of violent perpetrators. Similarly, several researchers make a strong association between maltreatment as a child and later adult IPV perpetration and victimization by a partner. Both exposure to child abuse and observation of inter-parental spousal violence together further increase the probability of partner aggression for both men and women.\n\nThe consistent presence of coercive interactional processes across dysfunctional parent-child relations, a conduct disordered adolesence, early dating violence, and adult IPV provide the conception for a unified temporal mechanism as patterns of emotional and behavioral self-regulation that are learned and reinforced in the family of origin are applied to subsequent relationships. Attachment processes and the intergenerational transmission of attachment may be blocked by culture-specific rearing conditions and discontinued or altered by major life events such as the loss of attachment figures or damage through deprivation and trauma. The continuity of oppositional, aggressive behavior throughout life may, in other words, account for the linkages of adversities from childhood experiences through to adult IPV experiences.\n\n
  • O’Leary and Slep (2003) asserted that much of the new findings emerging from IPV research is only interpretable in the context of dyadic models that factor in mutual influence exhorted by the couple and that account for the stability of violence in the relationship over time. Fincham (2010) stated that understanding relational conflict itself is crucial given that it is a common precursor to IPV. The frequency and impact of chronic stressors both inside and outside the home has been strongly associated to verbal and psychological aggression along with reductions in relationship satisfaction for both partners that, in turn, sets the stage for a greater likelihood of physical aggression. Partners are far more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Cano and Vivian (2003) also found that stressors associated with loss and threats of loss discriminated between nonviolent and violent couples and between moderately violent and severely violent men and women. Stuart et al. (2006) reported that poor emotional regulation, provocation by a partner, retaliation for past abuse, and self-defense (primarily in severely violent cases)—all situationally and event driven causes—were the most common reasons cited for violence perpetration. This highly contextualized way of conceptualizing relationship violence is fundamentally different, but not incompatible with views focused solely on individuals and their violent behavior. \n\nA feature of contextualized models of IPV is that they distinguish themselves from previous models in seeking to integrate gender as a categorical and variable factor of difference rather than the exegesis of IPV. The mentioned features are critical distinctions in the modeling of IPV research in that all help to open the field to additional dimensions of explanation and the positing of various factors and pathways more in line with a psychotherepeutic framework that is found to be most effective for treatment of IPV situations.\n\nThe emerging aspects of new IPV models direct researchers beyond descriptive evaluations of a violent event that do little to understand the event’s meaning and collective impact or alter its trajectory. Instead, researchers adopting new perspectives of IPV events look at them as relational, interactional, and intersubjective in their scope and motives. They include historical and developmental aspects that add a temporal dimension beyond a snapshot view of individuals and situations. Most importantly perhaps, a collaborative approach is achieved that endeavors to conceive of the individual as a “collective actor situated within the horizon of worldly immanence.” This is a critical differentiation from past methods if research ever hopes to address the mimetic schemas underlying IPV behavior instead of confronting only the ways individuals embody collective cognitions, symbols, and representations of violence at a given historical point in time.\n\nCoercive and expessive control\n\nJewkes wrote, “violence is often deployed as a tactic in relationship conflict as well as being an expression of frustration or anger.” Violence as a tactic may further be included as a common dynamic within relationship interactions as a response to loss of control, unmet dependency needs, anxiety, fears, frustrations, and threats to self-esteem. On the more severe end of the spectrum are potential actions that are also associated with particular disorders of the personality. Winstok elaborated that the motivation for controlling a situation can lead individuals to utilize nonlegitimate forceful action directed at harming its target. Motive, action, and consequences are thus all factors to be considered in assessing relationship violence. \n\nThe connections between motivations for control and coercive behavior as a means of obtaining control is present in most definitions of violence in relationships. A recent study concluded, “control and aggression are two conceptualizations of the same phenomenon, rather than two distinct, yet interrelated, concepts.” The degree to which an individual needs to control a partner by regulating the partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is negatively correlated with ability for self-control and that both of these forms of control (self and partner) are representations of personal control and attempts at upholding a sense of personal efficacy or mastery. Personal control is a prerequisite for and individuals’ ability to plan and maintain their life environment in such a way that it meets their needs,” and “includes the ability to alter the course of events in their lives” (p. 170). \n\nBandura wrote:\nTo realize their aims, people try to exercise control over the events that affect their lives. They have a stronger incentive to act if they believe that control is possible— that their actions will be effective. Perceived self-efficacy, or a belief in one's personal capabilities, regulates human functioning. \n\nBandura (1997) tied the regulatory effects of perceived self-efficacy to not only cognitive and motivational function, but also demonstrated that loss of this perception has negative consequences for affect regulation including increased levels of anxiety and depression that have also been tied to IPV episodes. It is necessary for the individual to retain a sense of mastery in a relationship. Experiencing loss of control over one’s environment threatens the sense of mastery and elicits attempts to regain it through the use of controlling behaviors (e.g., aggression) toward others (e.g., intimate partners). \n\nIn other words, it appears a heightened need to control combined with a reduced ability for self-control creates an environment for more frequent and severe violent behaviors. \n\nWinstok and Perkis (2009) differentiated the individual’s need for control from motivation for control as an aspect of obtaining dominance. While the need to control a partner or the capability for regulating one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in interpersonal conflict may not lead to violence or constitute abuse in every case, the use of coercive control consisting of violence and threats of violence to maintain a position of power within the relationship is a configuration that appears most commonly in the most extreme cases and raises no doubt as to its abusive nature. \n\nA coercively controlling partner also works to legitimize and justify their actions in the context of the violent relationship, maintaining that they have the right to act in a violent way. Bandura described this phenomenon as a moral disengagement of the aggressing individual achieved through the cognitive restructuring of the violent and abusive behavior to fit their sense of morality.\n\nAccording to Johnson, it is the combination of any level of violence accompanied by high coercive control that defines what he calls intimate terrorism.\n\nTypology of IPV\n\nJohnson (2008) in establishing a typology of domestic violence utilizes the connections between individual incidences of violence and a general pattern of coercive control to distinguish between primary types of relationship violence. While Johnson used the presence of controlling tactics in differentiating typologies, he also asserted that violence is not exclusively motivated by a need or desire to gain or resist control in relationships experiencing violence. Violence is one of many tactics that might be aimed at exerting control (either partial or total) in a relationship. Violence also occurs when there is no intention of controlling the partner. Often, violence arises as a faulty expression of anger or frustration and is not directed at control of the partner.\n\nBased on the primary distinction of coercive control, Johnson identifies four patterns of relationship violence: Intimate terrorism in which an individual is violent and controlling and their partner is not; violent resistance in which an individual is violent, but not controlling in response to their partners controlling violence; situational couple violence where violence often occurs bi-directionlly, but neither partner is both violent and controlling; and mutual violent control where both partners are violent and controlling.\n\nReciprocal Aggression\n\nSituational couple violence is the most common form of relationship violence representing by some measures 80% of the cases of IPV in general population studies. It generally does not involve any attempt to gain control of the partner or relationship, is most commonly situationally provoked, is less severe in its expression and outcomes, tends to be a singular event, and is commonly self-resolving. It is best conceptualized as an escalating mutual conflict that gets out of hand due to the personality traits of the couple, situational circumstances, and limitations in the behavioral repertoire or skills deficit of the couple. This form of relational violence also exhibits a preponderance of mutual instigation and provocation of both direct and indirect aggression. Aggression and violence in most relationships where such incidences occur in other words, is bi-directional, reciprocal, and largely symmetrical in its constitution if not its outcomes and consequences. One in six married couples experience at least one case of situational violence in the course of their relationship. Fiebert (2009) compiled more than 270 empirical studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate some level of gender mutuality of IPV as part of their findings. One of the largest studies conducted supporting Johnson’s typology found bi-directional and mutual patterns of perpetration and revealed similarities in both male and female victimization.  Some findings also contradict the widely held view that bidirectional violence does not equate to mutual victimization in the form of injury, trauma, or fear They found similar rates of injury and fear of a partner for both men and women in violent relationships although severity of injury was more pronounced for women as the frequency and severity of aggression (both their own and their partner’s) increased.\n\nIntimate terrorism on the other hand is violence embedded in systematic coercive control and typically conceived as perpetrated by males on female partners. The use of coercive control tactics is most prominent in unilateral and mutual controlling relationships along with the violent resistance that sometimes accompanies these typologies. Exerting control is not the primary concern in more common situational instances. Much confusion occurs in studies when a particular typology is implicitly linked to IPV research data particularly when coercive types of violence are used as benchmarks and show themselves as persistent, unidirectional, severe, and gendered.\n\nDutton et al. (2005) suggested that the measurement of coercive control present in IPV incidences consists of interrelated scales of demands for compliance that an aggressor places upon their partner, coercive factors directed at harming or threatening harm to the partner, to the self, or to others, and surveillance tactics directed at monitoring compliance with demands. They concluded that “the coercion in which an assault is imbedded helps to define its level of severity” (p. 2) and as such should be assessed as part of the broader evaluation of IPV incidences and the potential direct and indirect responses to such coercive control by the recipient partner leading to violent resistance.\n\nTo recap, coercive control is the key factor separating the primary forms of partner violence. Violence when used systematically and coercively is an instrumental violence utilized by the controlling partner to dominate and completely control the household and relationship. It is also part of a pattern of tactics used to control the other partner’s thoughts and actions within the structure of the relationship. Control is achieved by the use of threats and intimidation, by undermining the partners will to resist through continual justification and legitimation for violent actions and by shifting blame to the other, by undermining the ability to resist via controlling and blocking access to resources needed for resistance, and by constant surveillance and monitoring to catch transgressions.\n\nThe predisposition to avoid either agency or general population surveys constructs differing perceptions of IPV. As a result of this organic bias, violence documented in general survey samples consists mostly of situational couple violence, while the violence in agency samples is mostly intimate partner terrorism and violent resistance. This assertion is upheld by Johnson’s (2006) study that found 89% of general survey samples of those individuals reporting some form of violence could be classified as situational couple violence as opposed to 11% as intimate terrorism whereas 68% of court samples and 79% of shelter samples could be classified as intimate terrorism. This also indicates that existing systems are somewhat effective at capturing severe cases of violence, but may be inadequate in dealing with the majority of IPV cases.\n\nEscalation\n\nFeld and Straus (1989) stated that most researchers and members of the public believe that violent behavior, once begun, tends to continue for the life of the relationship. While the term escalation as used in IPV research is generally used to describe an individual escalatory pattern or tendency for more severe and frequent forms of aggression to be used when more mild actions fail to resolve the conflict, it is important to note that most partners do not escalate from low to high levels of aggression and risk over time. This refutes the commonly held consensus among practitioners that violent partners will, if left unchecked, escalate in frequency and intensity over time. Instead, we find that there are particular, somewhat stable characteristics specific to each type IPV that establish thresholds distinct to each type and that these thresholds make it unlikely that an individual will move from one particular type to another. The mutual and bidirectional nature of aggression due to dyadic conflict in many violent relationships also means that when change [either positive or negative] occurs, it tends in the same direction for each member of the couple indicating that people grow or decline together in the relationship.\n\nPotegal said of the dynamics associated with aggressive acts, that they involve a sequence of behaviors, expressing escalation and de-escalation of the form or intensity of the actions taken, acting out over time. Such acting out can be interpreted economically if decisions to escalate aggression are calculated on potential benefits or risks; psychologically, involving acute emotional states of arousal; or as emergent processes that are spontaneously and dynamically generated by the actions and reactions of the participants. Winstok suggested that researchers should work to replace the terms aggression (violence), perpetrator (aggressor), and victim with escalation, escalator, and de-escalator respectively as a reflection of how the dynamic and process of aggressive escalation often overwhelms the individual actions of the actors in a violent drama. The question of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim becomes instead a question of who increases, decreases, or conserves the severity of violence between the parties.\n\nRegulating Factors\n\nEhrensaft and Vivian (1999) found that among couples with a history of aggressive and controlling behavior restrictive or limiting behaviors are often interpreted as normal. They found that “individuals who had either engaged in or received partner aggression appraised restrictive, domineering, and coercive behaviors from a partner as less controlling than individuals who had neither perpetrated nor received partner aggression.” They further go on to suggest that individuals who do not have a history of aggression would be more likely to extract themselves quickly from a relationship with an aggressive partner as they would recognize the controlling nature of the behavior and be reluctant to remain in such a relationship.\n\nIt has been shown that use of coercion in relationships rises dramatically as relationship satisfaction declines, and is accompanied with an increased use of indirect communication and aggression strategies. The prognosis however for a couple that remains on a trajectory of coercion, aggression, and violence is that the relationship will eventually dissolve even if the couple has heavy commitments or limited economic resources. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals involved in violent relationships either escape by leaving their partner or by changing their own and their partner’s behavior over time, or by naturally reducing in conflict and violence over time with the age of the individuals, a couple’s commitment to better relational skills if they stay together, or the evolution of the relationship status to more perceived stable states.\n\nThe highest incidence of IPV occurs in youth and decreases over time and the length of time a couple spends living together has a significant impact on the potential for divergence of their perceptions of conflict, thus on the quality of the relationship and on the expression of aggression. Dramatic decreases of physical aggression year over year were recorded in a study of violent couples with typically more than half of physically aggressive partners desisting from one yearly assessment to the next without any obvious external influences. Couples with a more positive relational foundation and history together are also more successful at shifting away from mutually destructive behavior. The premise that violence will eventually end the relationship and that individuals will regulate their own tolerance for violent and coercive behavior is upheld in findings that show that the vast majority of situational couple violence cases are in relationships of a current spouse/partner whereas the preponderance of cases classified as intimate terrorism are associated with a former spouse/partner. \n\nWhile cases of intimate terrorism tend to escalate or remain stable over time, eventually leading to the termination of the relationship or drawing the attention of law enforcement, the episodic nature of situational couple violence means that couples are less likely to engage in help-seeking as a coping tactic. Almost all such cases of situational violence are atypical for the relationship, rapidly diminish in frequency, and will remit on their own over time, demonstrating a high level of regulatory function to the concurrence of conflict and violence. This regulation extends as well to the severity of outcomes of such incidences considering that the the high frequency of physical aggression apparently existing in many relationships has a correspondingly low probability of an injury occurring, suggesting that couples that engage in physical aggression do so within specific, rule-based bounds. \n\nIPV for the most part is engaged in examining coercive power in relationship that due to its pathological origins creates resistance—often violent—and over time decreases attraction as evidenced by high incidences of relationship termination. The ability of partners to utilize various strategies in the exercise of power and personal efficacy in the relationship can have a profound impact on the trajectory of a specific conflict and the relationship as a whole over time. It is inequalities of power (both personal and social), not gender specifically that determines decision making, effects relationship satisfaction, and regulates how both women and men try to influence their partner through direct or indirect and unilateral or bilateral means. \n\nFactors of control and aggression are linked through the need for self-efficacy. Continued attempts and failure to normatively control a partner combined with poor capabilities of self-control may cause the introduction of control behaviors into the repertoire of the couple. From the interpretive framework of aggression, a researcher may distinguish the pervasiveness of aggression and categorize violent relationships based on the severity, frequency, and adverse outcomes presented. From the standpoint of control behaviors, a similar differentiation of mild to severe forms control could still be identified even in the absence of physical aggression. Control in the context of relationship violence then hinges on whether the use of violence is proactive, in that it is used by a partner who has an excessive need for control to gain and keep control, or if it is reactive, in that it is situationally motivated and emotionally explosive violence based on the individual’s need to regain control of themselves by controlling their partner within the given situation. \n\nMany acts of IPV seem to be caused in large part by momentary failures in self-regulation or self-regulatory failures, which refer to individuals’ tendencies to act on their gut-level impulses rather than on well-considered preferences that are better aligned with their long-term goals and preferences. Attachment factors in the form of high levels of emotional interdependence in intimate relationships provide one compelling explanation for high rates of violence emerging from relationship conflict compared to other forms of conflict. The opportunities for elevated levels of verbal conflict, that often portend violence in distressed relationships, along with a highly interdependent relationship, where the motivation for influencing or even coercing a partner is high, sets the stage for conflicting interests to arise and will often predict higher levels of IPV. Violent impulses may well emerge more frequently and more powerfully toward intimate partners than toward other individuals in large part because of the strong interdependence characteristic of such partnerships . . . which renders conflict an inevitable—though often unanticipated—feature of close relationships. For the most part, evidence indicates that most people who are vulnerable to violent impulses during conflicts with their partner are able to inhibit acts of aggression, but may eventually succumb under certain circumstances where there is a failure of self-regulation. Finkel looked at factors of dispositional self-control, the availability of cognitive processing time, and the depletion or bolstering of self-regulatory resources to elucidate how such factors may play a pivotal role in determining if violent impulses translate into violent behavior against a partner. He found that, individuals will only perpetrate IPV when the violence-impelling forces they experience at that time exceed the violence-inhibiting forces. Once violence-impelling forces surpass violence-inhibiting forces, however, the individual will often perpetrate IPV. He also adds that any additional factors that reinforce or strengthen impelling forces already exceeding a person’s threshold of inhibition will tend to further influence the form and intensity of violent acts.\n\nThe Red Line\n\nThere are indications that control behaviors, similar to expressions of aggression operate within a bounded framework. While the need to control a partner co-occurs with issues of self-control in many IPV incidences, situational/reactive forms tend to culminate in verbal assaults as both an expression of aggression and as a control behavior whereas terrorist/proactive forms utilize both threats of physical violence and actual physical violence for the same purpose. Indeed, in the case of proactive violence, the individual’s need to control was linked more directly to threats of violence and physical aggression than to loss of self-control and verbal aggression as it is with reactive violence. From the normative angle in partner control, it seems that self-control incapability and verbal aggression are tolerable norms whereas threats and actual physical violence contradict acceptable standards and are not to be tolerated. A distinct line divides between what is to be tolerated and what is to be rejected. The weak co-occurrence of verbal aggression with threats of physical violence indicates a regulating “red-line” that most individuals generally do not cross over in moving from verbal aggression to threats and threats with physical violence.\n\nBandura said:\nIn the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guide s and deterrents for conduct. In this self-regulatory process, people monitor their conduct and the conditions under which it occurs, judge it in relation to their moral standards and perceived circumstances, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves.\n\nRifkin stated that recent advances in biological sciences demonstrate that human beings are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship rather than for aggression, violence, self-interest, and utilitarianism. He claimed that the individual’s primary motivation is the empathic drive to belong rather than to gain power and control. Is it possible, he asked, that human beings are not inherently evil or intrinsically self-interested or materialistic, but are of a very different nature—an empathic one—and that all of the other drives that we have considered to be primary—aggression, violence, selfish behavior, acquisitiveness—are in fact secondary drives that flow from repression or denial of our most basic instinct? (p. 18)\n\nAttitudes and Beliefs\n\nThe benchmarks for acceptable behavior, including the use of control and aggression, are subject to factors of time, place, and tradition. Threats of violence and acts of physical violence are widely seen as contradictory to acceptable standards of relationship behavior and are not generally tolerated. Verbal and nonphysical aggressions are less definite, particularly in the context of relational and individual deficits mutually contributing to a couple’s distress. There is in several studies evidence of a general acceptance of some level of aggressiveness in relational dyads as, aside from terminating the relationship as a response to violence, many partners either respond reciprocally with their own aggression or don’t see the violence as a particularly alarming or relationship defining issue. While some theories of IPV stress a seeming broad acceptance of violence and coercion as an acceptable tactic in relational conflict resolution or the socialization of men and women into specific roles within the violent relationship, what seems to matter most in the study of IPV is the manifest characteristics of the individual and dynamics of relatedness the couple co-create. Numerous general population studies have found that gender attitudes are not a significant factor of IPV except in cases of intimate terrorism where misogyny is distinctly more prevalent. Finkel also documents a pervading lack of esteem, empowerment, and control in men as violence impelling factors contrary to strong ego elements of esteem and self-control that are violence inhibiting. Findings such as these demonstrate a lack of evidence translating patriarchal power into personal power in the relationship and diminish the viability of direct socio-cultural explanations as a sole framework for IPV.\n\nThe possible responses of a society to IPV, including criminal justice and mental health systems, heavily depends upon what the understanding of IPV is. The image of a passive, helpless, and depressed women paired to a man enacting stereotypes of hypermasculity motivated by the rewards of total control has become the default portrait most often drawn of the violent couple. This image radically bifurcates relationships into those that are nonviolent and those that are violent. In violent relationships, masculinity is suspect, conflict is a struggle for power, and influence is always coercive. Gender, however, as with other characteristics of human beings, takes form in the interaction with others. Aggression is a specific expression of such characteristics that is performed in the context of relationship and the etiology of violence is both more expansive and varied than such limited explanations can endorse.\n\nIntergenerational Transmission\n\nDenzin wrote, The violence that each family of violence makes and experiences has been made and experienced before. It is not purely spontaneous, made under conditions freely chosen. Rather, it is produced and experienced in situations which have been given and handed down to them . . . from . . . countless dead generations, also the victims of a violent past that was inherited.\n\nThe intergenerational transmission of domestic violence has been one of the most enduring and commonly reported influences on aggression generally and in family violence specifically. Much of the research conducted on understanding the origins of violence within the family and positing solutions has used social learning theory to frame the discussion. The conception pivots on mechanisms of modeling in the acquisition of aggressive behavior and posits that the witnessing or observation of violence in the family of origin creates attitudes, ideas, and norms about how, when, and towards whom aggression is appropriate. Couples learn to utilize violence to control a conflict or intimate partner by initially witnessing an attachment figure or role model successfully do the same. This imitative behavior integrates influences from friends and family along with social institutional factors that develop an individual’s attitudes, values, and perceptions toward the use of violence as a control tactic and is further reinforced through the continued association with others who endorse or approve of such control and when greater rewards than costs from using coercive control are anticipated by the individual.\n\nMany early studies of domestic violence encountered a high frequency of parental violence in the families of violent perpetrators. Similarly, several researchers make a strong association between maltreatment as a child and later adult IPV perpetration and victimization by a partner. Both exposure to child abuse and observation of inter-parental spousal violence together further increase the probability of partner aggression for both men and women.\n\nThe consistent presence of coercive interactional processes across dysfunctional parent-child relations, a conduct disordered adolesence, early dating violence, and adult IPV provide the conception for a unified temporal mechanism as patterns of emotional and behavioral self-regulation that are learned and reinforced in the family of origin are applied to subsequent relationships. Attachment processes and the intergenerational transmission of attachment may be blocked by culture-specific rearing conditions and discontinued or altered by major life events such as the loss of attachment figures or damage through deprivation and trauma. The continuity of oppositional, aggressive behavior throughout life may, in other words, account for the linkages of adversities from childhood experiences through to adult IPV experiences.\n\n
  • O’Leary and Slep (2003) asserted that much of the new findings emerging from IPV research is only interpretable in the context of dyadic models that factor in mutual influence exhorted by the couple and that account for the stability of violence in the relationship over time. Fincham (2010) stated that understanding relational conflict itself is crucial given that it is a common precursor to IPV. The frequency and impact of chronic stressors both inside and outside the home has been strongly associated to verbal and psychological aggression along with reductions in relationship satisfaction for both partners that, in turn, sets the stage for a greater likelihood of physical aggression. Partners are far more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Cano and Vivian (2003) also found that stressors associated with loss and threats of loss discriminated between nonviolent and violent couples and between moderately violent and severely violent men and women. Stuart et al. (2006) reported that poor emotional regulation, provocation by a partner, retaliation for past abuse, and self-defense (primarily in severely violent cases)—all situationally and event driven causes—were the most common reasons cited for violence perpetration. This highly contextualized way of conceptualizing relationship violence is fundamentally different, but not incompatible with views focused solely on individuals and their violent behavior. \n\nA feature of contextualized models of IPV is that they distinguish themselves from previous models in seeking to integrate gender as a categorical and variable factor of difference rather than the exegesis of IPV. The mentioned features are critical distinctions in the modeling of IPV research in that all help to open the field to additional dimensions of explanation and the positing of various factors and pathways more in line with a psychotherepeutic framework that is found to be most effective for treatment of IPV situations.\n\nThe emerging aspects of new IPV models direct researchers beyond descriptive evaluations of a violent event that do little to understand the event’s meaning and collective impact or alter its trajectory. Instead, researchers adopting new perspectives of IPV events look at them as relational, interactional, and intersubjective in their scope and motives. They include historical and developmental aspects that add a temporal dimension beyond a snapshot view of individuals and situations. Most importantly perhaps, a collaborative approach is achieved that endeavors to conceive of the individual as a “collective actor situated within the horizon of worldly immanence.” This is a critical differentiation from past methods if research ever hopes to address the mimetic schemas underlying IPV behavior instead of confronting only the ways individuals embody collective cognitions, symbols, and representations of violence at a given historical point in time.\n\nCoercive and expessive control\n\nJewkes wrote, “violence is often deployed as a tactic in relationship conflict as well as being an expression of frustration or anger.” Violence as a tactic may further be included as a common dynamic within relationship interactions as a response to loss of control, unmet dependency needs, anxiety, fears, frustrations, and threats to self-esteem. On the more severe end of the spectrum are potential actions that are also associated with particular disorders of the personality. Winstok elaborated that the motivation for controlling a situation can lead individuals to utilize nonlegitimate forceful action directed at harming its target. Motive, action, and consequences are thus all factors to be considered in assessing relationship violence. \n\nThe connections between motivations for control and coercive behavior as a means of obtaining control is present in most definitions of violence in relationships. A recent study concluded, “control and aggression are two conceptualizations of the same phenomenon, rather than two distinct, yet interrelated, concepts.” The degree to which an individual needs to control a partner by regulating the partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is negatively correlated with ability for self-control and that both of these forms of control (self and partner) are representations of personal control and attempts at upholding a sense of personal efficacy or mastery. Personal control is a prerequisite for and individuals’ ability to plan and maintain their life environment in such a way that it meets their needs,” and “includes the ability to alter the course of events in their lives” (p. 170). \n\nBandura wrote:\nTo realize their aims, people try to exercise control over the events that affect their lives. They have a stronger incentive to act if they believe that control is possible— that their actions will be effective. Perceived self-efficacy, or a belief in one's personal capabilities, regulates human functioning. \n\nBandura (1997) tied the regulatory effects of perceived self-efficacy to not only cognitive and motivational function, but also demonstrated that loss of this perception has negative consequences for affect regulation including increased levels of anxiety and depression that have also been tied to IPV episodes. It is necessary for the individual to retain a sense of mastery in a relationship. Experiencing loss of control over one’s environment threatens the sense of mastery and elicits attempts to regain it through the use of controlling behaviors (e.g., aggression) toward others (e.g., intimate partners). \n\nIn other words, it appears a heightened need to control combined with a reduced ability for self-control creates an environment for more frequent and severe violent behaviors. \n\nWinstok and Perkis (2009) differentiated the individual’s need for control from motivation for control as an aspect of obtaining dominance. While the need to control a partner or the capability for regulating one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in interpersonal conflict may not lead to violence or constitute abuse in every case, the use of coercive control consisting of violence and threats of violence to maintain a position of power within the relationship is a configuration that appears most commonly in the most extreme cases and raises no doubt as to its abusive nature. \n\nA coercively controlling partner also works to legitimize and justify their actions in the context of the violent relationship, maintaining that they have the right to act in a violent way. Bandura described this phenomenon as a moral disengagement of the aggressing individual achieved through the cognitive restructuring of the violent and abusive behavior to fit their sense of morality.\n\nAccording to Johnson, it is the combination of any level of violence accompanied by high coercive control that defines what he calls intimate terrorism.\n\nTypology of IPV\n\nJohnson (2008) in establishing a typology of domestic violence utilizes the connections between individual incidences of violence and a general pattern of coercive control to distinguish between primary types of relationship violence. While Johnson used the presence of controlling tactics in differentiating typologies, he also asserted that violence is not exclusively motivated by a need or desire to gain or resist control in relationships experiencing violence. Violence is one of many tactics that might be aimed at exerting control (either partial or total) in a relationship. Violence also occurs when there is no intention of controlling the partner. Often, violence arises as a faulty expression of anger or frustration and is not directed at control of the partner.\n\nBased on the primary distinction of coercive control, Johnson identifies four patterns of relationship violence: Intimate terrorism in which an individual is violent and controlling and their partner is not; violent resistance in which an individual is violent, but not controlling in response to their partners controlling violence; situational couple violence where violence often occurs bi-directionlly, but neither partner is both violent and controlling; and mutual violent control where both partners are violent and controlling.\n\nReciprocal Aggression\n\nSituational couple violence is the most common form of relationship violence representing by some measures 80% of the cases of IPV in general population studies. It generally does not involve any attempt to gain control of the partner or relationship, is most commonly situationally provoked, is less severe in its expression and outcomes, tends to be a singular event, and is commonly self-resolving. It is best conceptualized as an escalating mutual conflict that gets out of hand due to the personality traits of the couple, situational circumstances, and limitations in the behavioral repertoire or skills deficit of the couple. This form of relational violence also exhibits a preponderance of mutual instigation and provocation of both direct and indirect aggression. Aggression and violence in most relationships where such incidences occur in other words, is bi-directional, reciprocal, and largely symmetrical in its constitution if not its outcomes and consequences. One in six married couples experience at least one case of situational violence in the course of their relationship. Fiebert (2009) compiled more than 270 empirical studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate some level of gender mutuality of IPV as part of their findings. One of the largest studies conducted supporting Johnson’s typology found bi-directional and mutual patterns of perpetration and revealed similarities in both male and female victimization.  Some findings also contradict the widely held view that bidirectional violence does not equate to mutual victimization in the form of injury, trauma, or fear They found similar rates of injury and fear of a partner for both men and women in violent relationships although severity of injury was more pronounced for women as the frequency and severity of aggression (both their own and their partner’s) increased.\n\nIntimate terrorism on the other hand is violence embedded in systematic coercive control and typically conceived as perpetrated by males on female partners. The use of coercive control tactics is most prominent in unilateral and mutual controlling relationships along with the violent resistance that sometimes accompanies these typologies. Exerting control is not the primary concern in more common situational instances. Much confusion occurs in studies when a particular typology is implicitly linked to IPV research data particularly when coercive types of violence are used as benchmarks and show themselves as persistent, unidirectional, severe, and gendered.\n\nDutton et al. (2005) suggested that the measurement of coercive control present in IPV incidences consists of interrelated scales of demands for compliance that an aggressor places upon their partner, coercive factors directed at harming or threatening harm to the partner, to the self, or to others, and surveillance tactics directed at monitoring compliance with demands. They concluded that “the coercion in which an assault is imbedded helps to define its level of severity” (p. 2) and as such should be assessed as part of the broader evaluation of IPV incidences and the potential direct and indirect responses to such coercive control by the recipient partner leading to violent resistance.\n\nTo recap, coercive control is the key factor separating the primary forms of partner violence. Violence when used systematically and coercively is an instrumental violence utilized by the controlling partner to dominate and completely control the household and relationship. It is also part of a pattern of tactics used to control the other partner’s thoughts and actions within the structure of the relationship. Control is achieved by the use of threats and intimidation, by undermining the partners will to resist through continual justification and legitimation for violent actions and by shifting blame to the other, by undermining the ability to resist via controlling and blocking access to resources needed for resistance, and by constant surveillance and monitoring to catch transgressions.\n\nThe predisposition to avoid either agency or general population surveys constructs differing perceptions of IPV. As a result of this organic bias, violence documented in general survey samples consists mostly of situational couple violence, while the violence in agency samples is mostly intimate partner terrorism and violent resistance. This assertion is upheld by Johnson’s (2006) study that found 89% of general survey samples of those individuals reporting some form of violence could be classified as situational couple violence as opposed to 11% as intimate terrorism whereas 68% of court samples and 79% of shelter samples could be classified as intimate terrorism. This also indicates that existing systems are somewhat effective at capturing severe cases of violence, but may be inadequate in dealing with the majority of IPV cases.\n\nEscalation\n\nFeld and Straus (1989) stated that most researchers and members of the public believe that violent behavior, once begun, tends to continue for the life of the relationship. While the term escalation as used in IPV research is generally used to describe an individual escalatory pattern or tendency for more severe and frequent forms of aggression to be used when more mild actions fail to resolve the conflict, it is important to note that most partners do not escalate from low to high levels of aggression and risk over time. This refutes the commonly held consensus among practitioners that violent partners will, if left unchecked, escalate in frequency and intensity over time. Instead, we find that there are particular, somewhat stable characteristics specific to each type IPV that establish thresholds distinct to each type and that these thresholds make it unlikely that an individual will move from one particular type to another. The mutual and bidirectional nature of aggression due to dyadic conflict in many violent relationships also means that when change [either positive or negative] occurs, it tends in the same direction for each member of the couple indicating that people grow or decline together in the relationship.\n\nPotegal said of the dynamics associated with aggressive acts, that they involve a sequence of behaviors, expressing escalation and de-escalation of the form or intensity of the actions taken, acting out over time. Such acting out can be interpreted economically if decisions to escalate aggression are calculated on potential benefits or risks; psychologically, involving acute emotional states of arousal; or as emergent processes that are spontaneously and dynamically generated by the actions and reactions of the participants. Winstok suggested that researchers should work to replace the terms aggression (violence), perpetrator (aggressor), and victim with escalation, escalator, and de-escalator respectively as a reflection of how the dynamic and process of aggressive escalation often overwhelms the individual actions of the actors in a violent drama. The question of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim becomes instead a question of who increases, decreases, or conserves the severity of violence between the parties.\n\nRegulating Factors\n\nEhrensaft and Vivian (1999) found that among couples with a history of aggressive and controlling behavior restrictive or limiting behaviors are often interpreted as normal. They found that “individuals who had either engaged in or received partner aggression appraised restrictive, domineering, and coercive behaviors from a partner as less controlling than individuals who had neither perpetrated nor received partner aggression.” They further go on to suggest that individuals who do not have a history of aggression would be more likely to extract themselves quickly from a relationship with an aggressive partner as they would recognize the controlling nature of the behavior and be reluctant to remain in such a relationship.\n\nIt has been shown that use of coercion in relationships rises dramatically as relationship satisfaction declines, and is accompanied with an increased use of indirect communication and aggression strategies. The prognosis however for a couple that remains on a trajectory of coercion, aggression, and violence is that the relationship will eventually dissolve even if the couple has heavy commitments or limited economic resources. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals involved in violent relationships either escape by leaving their partner or by changing their own and their partner’s behavior over time, or by naturally reducing in conflict and violence over time with the age of the individuals, a couple’s commitment to better relational skills if they stay together, or the evolution of the relationship status to more perceived stable states.\n\nThe highest incidence of IPV occurs in youth and decreases over time and the length of time a couple spends living together has a significant impact on the potential for divergence of their perceptions of conflict, thus on the quality of the relationship and on the expression of aggression. Dramatic decreases of physical aggression year over year were recorded in a study of violent couples with typically more than half of physically aggressive partners desisting from one yearly assessment to the next without any obvious external influences. Couples with a more positive relational foundation and history together are also more successful at shifting away from mutually destructive behavior. The premise that violence will eventually end the relationship and that individuals will regulate their own tolerance for violent and coercive behavior is upheld in findings that show that the vast majority of situational couple violence cases are in relationships of a current spouse/partner whereas the preponderance of cases classified as intimate terrorism are associated with a former spouse/partner. \n\nWhile cases of intimate terrorism tend to escalate or remain stable over time, eventually leading to the termination of the relationship or drawing the attention of law enforcement, the episodic nature of situational couple violence means that couples are less likely to engage in help-seeking as a coping tactic. Almost all such cases of situational violence are atypical for the relationship, rapidly diminish in frequency, and will remit on their own over time, demonstrating a high level of regulatory function to the concurrence of conflict and violence. This regulation extends as well to the severity of outcomes of such incidences considering that the the high frequency of physical aggression apparently existing in many relationships has a correspondingly low probability of an injury occurring, suggesting that couples that engage in physical aggression do so within specific, rule-based bounds. \n\nIPV for the most part is engaged in examining coercive power in relationship that due to its pathological origins creates resistance—often violent—and over time decreases attraction as evidenced by high incidences of relationship termination. The ability of partners to utilize various strategies in the exercise of power and personal efficacy in the relationship can have a profound impact on the trajectory of a specific conflict and the relationship as a whole over time. It is inequalities of power (both personal and social), not gender specifically that determines decision making, effects relationship satisfaction, and regulates how both women and men try to influence their partner through direct or indirect and unilateral or bilateral means. \n\nFactors of control and aggression are linked through the need for self-efficacy. Continued attempts and failure to normatively control a partner combined with poor capabilities of self-control may cause the introduction of control behaviors into the repertoire of the couple. From the interpretive framework of aggression, a researcher may distinguish the pervasiveness of aggression and categorize violent relationships based on the severity, frequency, and adverse outcomes presented. From the standpoint of control behaviors, a similar differentiation of mild to severe forms control could still be identified even in the absence of physical aggression. Control in the context of relationship violence then hinges on whether the use of violence is proactive, in that it is used by a partner who has an excessive need for control to gain and keep control, or if it is reactive, in that it is situationally motivated and emotionally explosive violence based on the individual’s need to regain control of themselves by controlling their partner within the given situation. \n\nMany acts of IPV seem to be caused in large part by momentary failures in self-regulation or self-regulatory failures, which refer to individuals’ tendencies to act on their gut-level impulses rather than on well-considered preferences that are better aligned with their long-term goals and preferences. Attachment factors in the form of high levels of emotional interdependence in intimate relationships provide one compelling explanation for high rates of violence emerging from relationship conflict compared to other forms of conflict. The opportunities for elevated levels of verbal conflict, that often portend violence in distressed relationships, along with a highly interdependent relationship, where the motivation for influencing or even coercing a partner is high, sets the stage for conflicting interests to arise and will often predict higher levels of IPV. Violent impulses may well emerge more frequently and more powerfully toward intimate partners than toward other individuals in large part because of the strong interdependence characteristic of such partnerships . . . which renders conflict an inevitable—though often unanticipated—feature of close relationships. For the most part, evidence indicates that most people who are vulnerable to violent impulses during conflicts with their partner are able to inhibit acts of aggression, but may eventually succumb under certain circumstances where there is a failure of self-regulation. Finkel looked at factors of dispositional self-control, the availability of cognitive processing time, and the depletion or bolstering of self-regulatory resources to elucidate how such factors may play a pivotal role in determining if violent impulses translate into violent behavior against a partner. He found that, individuals will only perpetrate IPV when the violence-impelling forces they experience at that time exceed the violence-inhibiting forces. Once violence-impelling forces surpass violence-inhibiting forces, however, the individual will often perpetrate IPV. He also adds that any additional factors that reinforce or strengthen impelling forces already exceeding a person’s threshold of inhibition will tend to further influence the form and intensity of violent acts.\n\nThe Red Line\n\nThere are indications that control behaviors, similar to expressions of aggression operate within a bounded framework. While the need to control a partner co-occurs with issues of self-control in many IPV incidences, situational/reactive forms tend to culminate in verbal assaults as both an expression of aggression and as a control behavior whereas terrorist/proactive forms utilize both threats of physical violence and actual physical violence for the same purpose. Indeed, in the case of proactive violence, the individual’s need to control was linked more directly to threats of violence and physical aggression than to loss of self-control and verbal aggression as it is with reactive violence. From the normative angle in partner control, it seems that self-control incapability and verbal aggression are tolerable norms whereas threats and actual physical violence contradict acceptable standards and are not to be tolerated. A distinct line divides between what is to be tolerated and what is to be rejected. The weak co-occurrence of verbal aggression with threats of physical violence indicates a regulating “red-line” that most individuals generally do not cross over in moving from verbal aggression to threats and threats with physical violence.\n\nBandura said:\nIn the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guide s and deterrents for conduct. In this self-regulatory process, people monitor their conduct and the conditions under which it occurs, judge it in relation to their moral standards and perceived circumstances, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves.\n\nRifkin stated that recent advances in biological sciences demonstrate that human beings are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship rather than for aggression, violence, self-interest, and utilitarianism. He claimed that the individual’s primary motivation is the empathic drive to belong rather than to gain power and control. Is it possible, he asked, that human beings are not inherently evil or intrinsically self-interested or materialistic, but are of a very different nature—an empathic one—and that all of the other drives that we have considered to be primary—aggression, violence, selfish behavior, acquisitiveness—are in fact secondary drives that flow from repression or denial of our most basic instinct? (p. 18)\n\nAttitudes and Beliefs\n\nThe benchmarks for acceptable behavior, including the use of control and aggression, are subject to factors of time, place, and tradition. Threats of violence and acts of physical violence are widely seen as contradictory to acceptable standards of relationship behavior and are not generally tolerated. Verbal and nonphysical aggressions are less definite, particularly in the context of relational and individual deficits mutually contributing to a couple’s distress. There is in several studies evidence of a general acceptance of some level of aggressiveness in relational dyads as, aside from terminating the relationship as a response to violence, many partners either respond reciprocally with their own aggression or don’t see the violence as a particularly alarming or relationship defining issue. While some theories of IPV stress a seeming broad acceptance of violence and coercion as an acceptable tactic in relational conflict resolution or the socialization of men and women into specific roles within the violent relationship, what seems to matter most in the study of IPV is the manifest characteristics of the individual and dynamics of relatedness the couple co-create. Numerous general population studies have found that gender attitudes are not a significant factor of IPV except in cases of intimate terrorism where misogyny is distinctly more prevalent. Finkel also documents a pervading lack of esteem, empowerment, and control in men as violence impelling factors contrary to strong ego elements of esteem and self-control that are violence inhibiting. Findings such as these demonstrate a lack of evidence translating patriarchal power into personal power in the relationship and diminish the viability of direct socio-cultural explanations as a sole framework for IPV.\n\nThe possible responses of a society to IPV, including criminal justice and mental health systems, heavily depends upon what the understanding of IPV is. The image of a passive, helpless, and depressed women paired to a man enacting stereotypes of hypermasculity motivated by the rewards of total control has become the default portrait most often drawn of the violent couple. This image radically bifurcates relationships into those that are nonviolent and those that are violent. In violent relationships, masculinity is suspect, conflict is a struggle for power, and influence is always coercive. Gender, however, as with other characteristics of human beings, takes form in the interaction with others. Aggression is a specific expression of such characteristics that is performed in the context of relationship and the etiology of violence is both more expansive and varied than such limited explanations can endorse.\n\nIntergenerational Transmission\n\nDenzin wrote, The violence that each family of violence makes and experiences has been made and experienced before. It is not purely spontaneous, made under conditions freely chosen. Rather, it is produced and experienced in situations which have been given and handed down to them . . . from . . . countless dead generations, also the victims of a violent past that was inherited.\n\nThe intergenerational transmission of domestic violence has been one of the most enduring and commonly reported influences on aggression generally and in family violence specifically. Much of the research conducted on understanding the origins of violence within the family and positing solutions has used social learning theory to frame the discussion. The conception pivots on mechanisms of modeling in the acquisition of aggressive behavior and posits that the witnessing or observation of violence in the family of origin creates attitudes, ideas, and norms about how, when, and towards whom aggression is appropriate. Couples learn to utilize violence to control a conflict or intimate partner by initially witnessing an attachment figure or role model successfully do the same. This imitative behavior integrates influences from friends and family along with social institutional factors that develop an individual’s attitudes, values, and perceptions toward the use of violence as a control tactic and is further reinforced through the continued association with others who endorse or approve of such control and when greater rewards than costs from using coercive control are anticipated by the individual.\n\nMany early studies of domestic violence encountered a high frequency of parental violence in the families of violent perpetrators. Similarly, several researchers make a strong association between maltreatment as a child and later adult IPV perpetration and victimization by a partner. Both exposure to child abuse and observation of inter-parental spousal violence together further increase the probability of partner aggression for both men and women.\n\nThe consistent presence of coercive interactional processes across dysfunctional parent-child relations, a conduct disordered adolesence, early dating violence, and adult IPV provide the conception for a unified temporal mechanism as patterns of emotional and behavioral self-regulation that are learned and reinforced in the family of origin are applied to subsequent relationships. Attachment processes and the intergenerational transmission of attachment may be blocked by culture-specific rearing conditions and discontinued or altered by major life events such as the loss of attachment figures or damage through deprivation and trauma. The continuity of oppositional, aggressive behavior throughout life may, in other words, account for the linkages of adversities from childhood experiences through to adult IPV experiences.\n\n
  • O’Leary and Slep (2003) asserted that much of the new findings emerging from IPV research is only interpretable in the context of dyadic models that factor in mutual influence exhorted by the couple and that account for the stability of violence in the relationship over time. Fincham (2010) stated that understanding relational conflict itself is crucial given that it is a common precursor to IPV. The frequency and impact of chronic stressors both inside and outside the home has been strongly associated to verbal and psychological aggression along with reductions in relationship satisfaction for both partners that, in turn, sets the stage for a greater likelihood of physical aggression. Partners are far more likely to engage in physical aggression at times when they engaged in higher levels of psychological aggression. Cano and Vivian (2003) also found that stressors associated with loss and threats of loss discriminated between nonviolent and violent couples and between moderately violent and severely violent men and women. Stuart et al. (2006) reported that poor emotional regulation, provocation by a partner, retaliation for past abuse, and self-defense (primarily in severely violent cases)—all situationally and event driven causes—were the most common reasons cited for violence perpetration. This highly contextualized way of conceptualizing relationship violence is fundamentally different, but not incompatible with views focused solely on individuals and their violent behavior. \n\nA feature of contextualized models of IPV is that they distinguish themselves from previous models in seeking to integrate gender as a categorical and variable factor of difference rather than the exegesis of IPV. The mentioned features are critical distinctions in the modeling of IPV research in that all help to open the field to additional dimensions of explanation and the positing of various factors and pathways more in line with a psychotherepeutic framework that is found to be most effective for treatment of IPV situations.\n\nThe emerging aspects of new IPV models direct researchers beyond descriptive evaluations of a violent event that do little to understand the event’s meaning and collective impact or alter its trajectory. Instead, researchers adopting new perspectives of IPV events look at them as relational, interactional, and intersubjective in their scope and motives. They include historical and developmental aspects that add a temporal dimension beyond a snapshot view of individuals and situations. Most importantly perhaps, a collaborative approach is achieved that endeavors to conceive of the individual as a “collective actor situated within the horizon of worldly immanence.” This is a critical differentiation from past methods if research ever hopes to address the mimetic schemas underlying IPV behavior instead of confronting only the ways individuals embody collective cognitions, symbols, and representations of violence at a given historical point in time.\n\nCoercive and expessive control\n\nJewkes wrote, “violence is often deployed as a tactic in relationship conflict as well as being an expression of frustration or anger.” Violence as a tactic may further be included as a common dynamic within relationship interactions as a response to loss of control, unmet dependency needs, anxiety, fears, frustrations, and threats to self-esteem. On the more severe end of the spectrum are potential actions that are also associated with particular disorders of the personality. Winstok elaborated that the motivation for controlling a situation can lead individuals to utilize nonlegitimate forceful action directed at harming its target. Motive, action, and consequences are thus all factors to be considered in assessing relationship violence. \n\nThe connections between motivations for control and coercive behavior as a means of obtaining control is present in most definitions of violence in relationships. A recent study concluded, “control and aggression are two conceptualizations of the same phenomenon, rather than two distinct, yet interrelated, concepts.” The degree to which an individual needs to control a partner by regulating the partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors is negatively correlated with ability for self-control and that both of these forms of control (self and partner) are representations of personal control and attempts at upholding a sense of personal efficacy or mastery. Personal control is a prerequisite for and individuals’ ability to plan and maintain their life environment in such a way that it meets their needs,” and “includes the ability to alter the course of events in their lives” (p. 170). \n\nBandura wrote:\nTo realize their aims, people try to exercise control over the events that affect their lives. They have a stronger incentive to act if they believe that control is possible— that their actions will be effective. Perceived self-efficacy, or a belief in one's personal capabilities, regulates human functioning. \n\nBandura (1997) tied the regulatory effects of perceived self-efficacy to not only cognitive and motivational function, but also demonstrated that loss of this perception has negative consequences for affect regulation including increased levels of anxiety and depression that have also been tied to IPV episodes. It is necessary for the individual to retain a sense of mastery in a relationship. Experiencing loss of control over one’s environment threatens the sense of mastery and elicits attempts to regain it through the use of controlling behaviors (e.g., aggression) toward others (e.g., intimate partners). \n\nIn other words, it appears a heightened need to control combined with a reduced ability for self-control creates an environment for more frequent and severe violent behaviors. \n\nWinstok and Perkis (2009) differentiated the individual’s need for control from motivation for control as an aspect of obtaining dominance. While the need to control a partner or the capability for regulating one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in interpersonal conflict may not lead to violence or constitute abuse in every case, the use of coercive control consisting of violence and threats of violence to maintain a position of power within the relationship is a configuration that appears most commonly in the most extreme cases and raises no doubt as to its abusive nature. \n\nA coercively controlling partner also works to legitimize and justify their actions in the context of the violent relationship, maintaining that they have the right to act in a violent way. Bandura described this phenomenon as a moral disengagement of the aggressing individual achieved through the cognitive restructuring of the violent and abusive behavior to fit their sense of morality.\n\nAccording to Johnson, it is the combination of any level of violence accompanied by high coercive control that defines what he calls intimate terrorism.\n\nTypology of IPV\n\nJohnson (2008) in establishing a typology of domestic violence utilizes the connections between individual incidences of violence and a general pattern of coercive control to distinguish between primary types of relationship violence. While Johnson used the presence of controlling tactics in differentiating typologies, he also asserted that violence is not exclusively motivated by a need or desire to gain or resist control in relationships experiencing violence. Violence is one of many tactics that might be aimed at exerting control (either partial or total) in a relationship. Violence also occurs when there is no intention of controlling the partner. Often, violence arises as a faulty expression of anger or frustration and is not directed at control of the partner.\n\nBased on the primary distinction of coercive control, Johnson identifies four patterns of relationship violence: Intimate terrorism in which an individual is violent and controlling and their partner is not; violent resistance in which an individual is violent, but not controlling in response to their partners controlling violence; situational couple violence where violence often occurs bi-directionlly, but neither partner is both violent and controlling; and mutual violent control where both partners are violent and controlling.\n\nReciprocal Aggression\n\nSituational couple violence is the most common form of relationship violence representing by some measures 80% of the cases of IPV in general population studies. It generally does not involve any attempt to gain control of the partner or relationship, is most commonly situationally provoked, is less severe in its expression and outcomes, tends to be a singular event, and is commonly self-resolving. It is best conceptualized as an escalating mutual conflict that gets out of hand due to the personality traits of the couple, situational circumstances, and limitations in the behavioral repertoire or skills deficit of the couple. This form of relational violence also exhibits a preponderance of mutual instigation and provocation of both direct and indirect aggression. Aggression and violence in most relationships where such incidences occur in other words, is bi-directional, reciprocal, and largely symmetrical in its constitution if not its outcomes and consequences. One in six married couples experience at least one case of situational violence in the course of their relationship. Fiebert (2009) compiled more than 270 empirical studies, reviews, and analyses that demonstrate some level of gender mutuality of IPV as part of their findings. One of the largest studies conducted supporting Johnson’s typology found bi-directional and mutual patterns of perpetration and revealed similarities in both male and female victimization.  Some findings also contradict the widely held view that bidirectional violence does not equate to mutual victimization in the form of injury, trauma, or fear They found similar rates of injury and fear of a partner for both men and women in violent relationships although severity of injury was more pronounced for women as the frequency and severity of aggression (both their own and their partner’s) increased.\n\nIntimate terrorism on the other hand is violence embedded in systematic coercive control and typically conceived as perpetrated by males on female partners. The use of coercive control tactics is most prominent in unilateral and mutual controlling relationships along with the violent resistance that sometimes accompanies these typologies. Exerting control is not the primary concern in more common situational instances. Much confusion occurs in studies when a particular typology is implicitly linked to IPV research data particularly when coercive types of violence are used as benchmarks and show themselves as persistent, unidirectional, severe, and gendered.\n\nDutton et al. (2005) suggested that the measurement of coercive control present in IPV incidences consists of interrelated scales of demands for compliance that an aggressor places upon their partner, coercive factors directed at harming or threatening harm to the partner, to the self, or to others, and surveillance tactics directed at monitoring compliance with demands. They concluded that “the coercion in which an assault is imbedded helps to define its level of severity” (p. 2) and as such should be assessed as part of the broader evaluation of IPV incidences and the potential direct and indirect responses to such coercive control by the recipient partner leading to violent resistance.\n\nTo recap, coercive control is the key factor separating the primary forms of partner violence. Violence when used systematically and coercively is an instrumental violence utilized by the controlling partner to dominate and completely control the household and relationship. It is also part of a pattern of tactics used to control the other partner’s thoughts and actions within the structure of the relationship. Control is achieved by the use of threats and intimidation, by undermining the partners will to resist through continual justification and legitimation for violent actions and by shifting blame to the other, by undermining the ability to resist via controlling and blocking access to resources needed for resistance, and by constant surveillance and monitoring to catch transgressions.\n\nThe predisposition to avoid either agency or general population surveys constructs differing perceptions of IPV. As a result of this organic bias, violence documented in general survey samples consists mostly of situational couple violence, while the violence in agency samples is mostly intimate partner terrorism and violent resistance. This assertion is upheld by Johnson’s (2006) study that found 89% of general survey samples of those individuals reporting some form of violence could be classified as situational couple violence as opposed to 11% as intimate terrorism whereas 68% of court samples and 79% of shelter samples could be classified as intimate terrorism. This also indicates that existing systems are somewhat effective at capturing severe cases of violence, but may be inadequate in dealing with the majority of IPV cases.\n\nEscalation\n\nFeld and Straus (1989) stated that most researchers and members of the public believe that violent behavior, once begun, tends to continue for the life of the relationship. While the term escalation as used in IPV research is generally used to describe an individual escalatory pattern or tendency for more severe and frequent forms of aggression to be used when more mild actions fail to resolve the conflict, it is important to note that most partners do not escalate from low to high levels of aggression and risk over time. This refutes the commonly held consensus among practitioners that violent partners will, if left unchecked, escalate in frequency and intensity over time. Instead, we find that there are particular, somewhat stable characteristics specific to each type IPV that establish thresholds distinct to each type and that these thresholds make it unlikely that an individual will move from one particular type to another. The mutual and bidirectional nature of aggression due to dyadic conflict in many violent relationships also means that when change [either positive or negative] occurs, it tends in the same direction for each member of the couple indicating that people grow or decline together in the relationship.\n\nPotegal said of the dynamics associated with aggressive acts, that they involve a sequence of behaviors, expressing escalation and de-escalation of the form or intensity of the actions taken, acting out over time. Such acting out can be interpreted economically if decisions to escalate aggression are calculated on potential benefits or risks; psychologically, involving acute emotional states of arousal; or as emergent processes that are spontaneously and dynamically generated by the actions and reactions of the participants. Winstok suggested that researchers should work to replace the terms aggression (violence), perpetrator (aggressor), and victim with escalation, escalator, and de-escalator respectively as a reflection of how the dynamic and process of aggressive escalation often overwhelms the individual actions of the actors in a violent drama. The question of who is the perpetrator and who is the victim becomes instead a question of who increases, decreases, or conserves the severity of violence between the parties.\n\nRegulating Factors\n\nEhrensaft and Vivian (1999) found that among couples with a history of aggressive and controlling behavior restrictive or limiting behaviors are often interpreted as normal. They found that “individuals who had either engaged in or received partner aggression appraised restrictive, domineering, and coercive behaviors from a partner as less controlling than individuals who had neither perpetrated nor received partner aggression.” They further go on to suggest that individuals who do not have a history of aggression would be more likely to extract themselves quickly from a relationship with an aggressive partner as they would recognize the controlling nature of the behavior and be reluctant to remain in such a relationship.\n\nIt has been shown that use of coercion in relationships rises dramatically as relationship satisfaction declines, and is accompanied with an increased use of indirect communication and aggression strategies. The prognosis however for a couple that remains on a trajectory of coercion, aggression, and violence is that the relationship will eventually dissolve even if the couple has heavy commitments or limited economic resources. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals involved in violent relationships either escape by leaving their partner or by changing their own and their partner’s behavior over time, or by naturally reducing in conflict and violence over time with the age of the individuals, a couple’s commitment to better relational skills if they stay together, or the evolution of the relationship status to more perceived stable states.\n\nThe highest incidence of IPV occurs in youth and decreases over time and the length of time a couple spends living together has a significant impact on the potential for divergence of their perceptions of conflict, thus on the quality of the relationship and on the expression of aggression. Dramatic decreases of physical aggression year over year were recorded in a study of violent couples with typically more than half of physically aggressive partners desisting from one yearly assessment to the next without any obvious external influences. Couples with a more positive relational foundation and history together are also more successful at shifting away from mutually destructive behavior. The premise that violence will eventually end the relationship and that individuals will regulate their own tolerance for violent and coercive behavior is upheld in findings that show that the vast majority of situational couple violence cases are in relationships of a current spouse/partner whereas the preponderance of cases classified as intimate terrorism are associated with a former spouse/partner. \n\nWhile cases of intimate terrorism tend to escalate or remain stable over time, eventually leading to the termination of the relationship or drawing the attention of law enforcement, the episodic nature of situational couple violence means that couples are less likely to engage in help-seeking as a coping tactic. Almost all such cases of situational violence are atypical for the relationship, rapidly diminish in frequency, and will remit on their own over time, demonstrating a high level of regulatory function to the concurrence of conflict and violence. This regulation extends as well to the severity of outcomes of such incidences considering that the the high frequency of physical aggression apparently existing in many relationships has a correspondingly low probability of an injury occurring, suggesting that couples that engage in physical aggression do so within specific, rule-based bounds. \n\nIPV for the most part is engaged in examining coercive power in relationship that due to its pathological origins creates resistance—often violent—and over time decreases attraction as evidenced by high incidences of relationship termination. The ability of partners to utilize various strategies in the exercise of power and personal efficacy in the relationship can have a profound impact on the trajectory of a specific conflict and the relationship as a whole over time. It is inequalities of power (both personal and social), not gender specifically that determines decision making, effects relationship satisfaction, and regulates how both women and men try to influence their partner through direct or indirect and unilateral or bilateral means. \n\nFactors of control and aggression are linked through the need for self-efficacy. Continued attempts and failure to normatively control a partner combined with poor capabilities of self-control may cause the introduction of control behaviors into the repertoire of the couple. From the interpretive framework of aggression, a researcher may distinguish the pervasiveness of aggression and categorize violent relationships based on the severity, frequency, and adverse outcomes presented. From the standpoint of control behaviors, a similar differentiation of mild to severe forms control could still be identified even in the absence of physical aggression. Control in the context of relationship violence then hinges on whether the use of violence is proactive, in that it is used by a partner who has an excessive need for control to gain and keep control, or if it is reactive, in that it is situationally motivated and emotionally explosive violence based on the individual’s need to regain control of themselves by controlling their partner within the given situation. \n\nMany acts of IPV seem to be caused in large part by momentary failures in self-regulation or self-regulatory failures, which refer to individuals’ tendencies to act on their gut-level impulses rather than on well-considered preferences that are better aligned with their long-term goals and preferences. Attachment factors in the form of high levels of emotional interdependence in intimate relationships provide one compelling explanation for high rates of violence emerging from relationship conflict compared to other forms of conflict. The opportunities for elevated levels of verbal conflict, that often portend violence in distressed relationships, along with a highly interdependent relationship, where the motivation for influencing or even coercing a partner is high, sets the stage for conflicting interests to arise and will often predict higher levels of IPV. Violent impulses may well emerge more frequently and more powerfully toward intimate partners than toward other individuals in large part because of the strong interdependence characteristic of such partnerships . . . which renders conflict an inevitable—though often unanticipated—feature of close relationships. For the most part, evidence indicates that most people who are vulnerable to violent impulses during conflicts with their partner are able to inhibit acts of aggression, but may eventually succumb under certain circumstances where there is a failure of self-regulation. Finkel looked at factors of dispositional self-control, the availability of cognitive processing time, and the depletion or bolstering of self-regulatory resources to elucidate how such factors may play a pivotal role in determining if violent impulses translate into violent behavior against a partner. He found that, individuals will only perpetrate IPV when the violence-impelling forces they experience at that time exceed the violence-inhibiting forces. Once violence-impelling forces surpass violence-inhibiting forces, however, the individual will often perpetrate IPV. He also adds that any additional factors that reinforce or strengthen impelling forces already exceeding a person’s threshold of inhibition will tend to further influence the form and intensity of violent acts.\n\nThe Red Line\n\nThere are indications that control behaviors, similar to expressions of aggression operate within a bounded framework. While the need to control a partner co-occurs with issues of self-control in many IPV incidences, situational/reactive forms tend to culminate in verbal assaults as both an expression of aggression and as a control behavior whereas terrorist/proactive forms utilize both threats of physical violence and actual physical violence for the same purpose. Indeed, in the case of proactive violence, the individual’s need to control was linked more directly to threats of violence and physical aggression than to loss of self-control and verbal aggression as it is with reactive violence. From the normative angle in partner control, it seems that self-control incapability and verbal aggression are tolerable norms whereas threats and actual physical violence contradict acceptable standards and are not to be tolerated. A distinct line divides between what is to be tolerated and what is to be rejected. The weak co-occurrence of verbal aggression with threats of physical violence indicates a regulating “red-line” that most individuals generally do not cross over in moving from verbal aggression to threats and threats with physical violence.\n\nBandura said:\nIn the development of a moral self, individuals adopt standards of right and wrong that serve as guide s and deterrents for conduct. In this self-regulatory process, people monitor their conduct and the conditions under which it occurs, judge it in relation to their moral standards and perceived circumstances, and regulate their actions by the consequences they apply to themselves.\n\nRifkin stated that recent advances in biological sciences demonstrate that human beings are soft-wired for sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship rather than for aggression, violence, self-interest, and utilitarianism. He claimed that the individual’s primary motivation is the empathic drive to belong rather than to gain power and control. Is it possible, he asked, that human beings are not inherently evil or intrinsically self-interested or materialistic, but are of a very different nature—an empathic one—and that all of the other drives that we have considered to be primary—aggression, violence, selfish behavior, acquisitiveness—are in fact secondary drives that flow from repression or denial of our most basic instinct? (p. 18)\n\nAttitudes and Beliefs\n\nThe benchmarks for acceptable behavior, including the use of control and aggression, are subject to factors of time, place, and tradition. Threats of violence and acts of physical violence are widely seen as contradictory to acceptable standards of relationship behavior and are not generally tolerated. Verbal and nonphysical aggressions are less definite, particularly in the context of relational and individual deficits mutually contributing to a couple’s distress. There is in several studies evidence of a general acceptance of some level of aggressiveness in relational dyads as, aside from terminating the relationship as a response to violence, many partners either respond reciprocally with their own aggression or don’t see the violence as a particularly alarming or relationship defining issue. While some theories of IPV stress a seeming broad acceptance of violence and coercion as an acceptable tactic in relational conflict resolution or the socialization of men and women into specific roles within the violent relationship, what seems to matter most in the study of IPV is the manifest characteristics of the individual and dynamics of relatedness the couple co-create. Numerous general population studies have found that gender attitudes are not a significant factor of IPV except in cases of intimate terrorism where misogyny is distinctly more prevalent. Finkel also documents a pervading lack of esteem, empowerment, and control in men as violence impelling factors contrary to strong ego elements of esteem and self-control that are violence inhibiting. Findings such as these demonstrate a lack of evidence translating patriarchal power into personal power in the relationship and diminish the viability of direct socio-cultural explanations as a sole framework for IPV.\n\nThe possible responses of a society to IPV, including criminal justice and mental health systems, heavily depends upon what the understanding of IPV is. The image of a passive, helpless, and depressed women paired to a man enacting stereotypes of hypermasculity motivated by the rewards of total control has become the default portrait most often drawn of the violent couple. This image radically bifurcates relationships into those that are nonviolent and those that are violent. In violent relationships, masculinity is suspect, conflict is a struggle for power, and influence is always coercive. Gender, however, as with other characteristics of human beings, takes form in the interaction with others. Aggression is a specific expression of such characteristics that is performed in the context of relationship and the etiology of violence is both more expansive and varied than such limited explanations can endorse.\n\nIntergenerational Transmission\n\nDenzin wrote, The violence that each family of violence makes and experiences has been made and experienced before. It is not purely spontaneous, made under conditions freely chosen. Rather, it is produced and experienced in situations which have been given and handed down to them . . . from . . . countless dead generations, also the victims of a violent past that was inherited.\n\nThe intergenerational transmission of domestic violence has been one of the most enduring and commonly reported influences on aggression generally and in family violence specifically. Much of the research conducted on understanding the origins of violence within the family and positing solutions has used social learning theory to frame the discussion. The conception pivots on mechanisms of modeling in the acquisition of aggressive behavior and posits that the witnessing or observation of violence in the family of origin creates attitudes, ideas, and norms about how, when, and towards whom aggression is appropriate. Couples learn to utilize violence to control a conflict or intimate partner by initially witnessing an attachment figure or role model successfully do the same. This imitative behavior integrates influences from friends and family along with social institutional factors that develop an individual’s attitudes, values, and perceptions toward the use of violence as a control tactic and is further reinforced through the continued association with others who endorse or approve of such control and when greater rewards than costs from using coercive control are anticipated by the individual.\n\nMany early studies of domestic violence encountered a high frequency of parental violence in the families of violent perpetrators. Similarly, several researchers make a strong association between maltreatment as a child and later adult IPV perpetration and victimization by a partner. Both exposure to child abuse and observation of inter-parental spousal violence together further increase the probability of partner aggression for both men and women.\n\nThe consistent presence of coercive interactional processes across dysfunctional parent-child relations, a conduct disordered adolesence, early dating violence, and adult IPV provide the conception for a unified temporal mechanism as patterns of emotional and behavioral self-regulation that are learned and reinforced in the family of origin are applied to subsequent relationships. Attachment processes and the intergenerational transmission of attachment may be blocked by culture-specific rearing conditions and discontinued or altered by major life events such as the loss of attachment figures or damage through deprivation and trauma. The continuity of oppositional, aggressive behavior throughout life may, in other words, account for the linkages of adversities from childhood experiences through to adult IPV experiences.\n\n
  • To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described. Frames . . . define problems—determine what a causal agent is doing with what costs and benefits, usually measured in terms of common cultural values; diagnose causes-identify the forces creating the problem; make moral judgments-evaluate causal agents and their effects; and suggest remedies-offer and justify treatments for the problems and predict their likely effects. A culture can be thought of aas a “stock of commonly invoked frames . . . exhibited in the discourse and thinking of most people in a social grouping.” In the case of research, highlighting and extending a frame can help to further illuminate a topic. I will now briefly propose a framing of the individual in relation to IPV as a means of further contextualizing possible interventions.\n\nThe Batterer\n\nAttributions of battering are largely made on the basis of the causal locus of the incidence, the relative stability of the causal factors over time, and the perception of the controllability of the cause as under the volitional control of the individual or not. These dimensions of assessing the actions of a violent partner serve as something of an unconscious litmus test of both accountability and sympathy for the actions of an aggressor by observing others. Carlyle adds,\nAccordingly, from an attribution perspective, if aggressive behavior is viewed as stable and intended or controllable then the attribution should be to hold the aggressor responsible, be angry, and desire retaliation. Conversely, if the behavior is viewed as not intended or not controllable, then the attribution should be to not hold the aggressor responsible, be sympathetic, and not desire retaliation.\n\nThe positing typologies like Johnson’s in domestic violence is in one sense delineating which acts of relationship violence fall into categories of tolerable and intolerable behavior and more importantly, what types of individual offenders by virtue of the type of categorical violent action are truly violent, which are of questionable status, and which should be evaluated by some other criteria altogether. It is conceivable that such distinctions translate into evaluations of who, based on such typologies, could be considered a redeemable individual and who is not. \n\nEvil\n\nKohen stated, “In the absence of human desire, there would be no evil.” In other words, perceptions of actions deemed to be evil in their intent are not separate from the experience of frustrated desire nor the perception of the experience less or more than those affected feel it to be. Desire that desires itself, wrote Denzin, “through the submission of the other to the subject’s will, destroys itself and the other through the very act of realization.” The relationship of violence is immersed in the flowing together of the world of desire and the world of violence and the realization of desire becomes mistaken with the act of violence itself. \n\nThe frustration of basic needs by practices promoting aggression set up patterns of being that continually attempt to bring satisfaction to those needs when life conditions thwart their fulfillment—possibly obstructing the path to continued growth and personal evolution. It is critical to the promotion of a successful human journey that individuals are able to satisfy as many needs as possible for security, self-efficacy, positive identity and connectedness, comprehension of reality, autonomy, and transcendence of self. Humans need to believe that they will be free from physical and psychological harm; that they have the capacity for successful action in the world; to have a positive conception of who they are and are positively connected to others; that the world and people in it make sense; to make independent choices; and to go beyond a focus on, and concern with the self. “The frustration of these needs does not lead to aggression, but it gives rise to psychological and social processes that make aggression more likely.”\n\nThe development of character is a dynamic interplay between what capacities an individual brings to a situation, what a situation calls forth from the individual, and what system is in place to create and maintain a situation. Situations that evoke violence in one individual have the capacity to just as likely ignite the heroic imagination in another. Zimbardo believed, to change the person, one must also change their situation. To change the situation, one must understand where power resides with the connected and interdependent social systems. If researchers start with the assumption of goodness, Zimbardo stated, we should be asking what is responsible rather than who is responsible. What makes inherently good people do bad things? Such questions require a move away from the medical model of treating dysfunctional symptoms of individuals to a more public health model of prevention that focuses on changing situations and systems that are vectors of disease in the world.\n\nVilification\n\nThe problem of IPV is most commonly framed as a problem of battering, and as such, those who perpetrate are vilified as batterers. This in turn shapes what sorts of research and policy questions get asked, how those questions get asked, and how those questions are then answered in terms of policy and program initiatives. Battering as a primary problem definition and descriptive label of the central issue of IPV activates numerous associations and assumptions. The manifestation of some key associations and assumptions are apparent in that the pronouns “batterer” and “he” and “victim” and “she” are commonly used interchangeably in the majority of research articles and media coverage of IPV. The mindset established in the IPV community is one in which perpetrators are almost exclusively male, which it can be argued inadvertently plants a seed of suspicion that any man might be capable of violence against women regardless of history.\n\nGender perceptions aside, Corvo and Johnson state that there are several other assumptions that frame perceptions of a battering person. First is that such individuals all have the same characteristics that, once identified and categorized, will allow for the segmentation of those who are at the greatest risk for perpetration.\n\nThese delineations of batterers and battering give rise according to Corvo and Jonson to, the vilification of the batterer and targets for dismissive, degrading, and stereotypical characterizations. Jacobson for example clusters batterers into “hedonistic and impulsive . . . cobras” and anxiously attached pit bulls effectively creating the impression that these individuals are both defective in their character and animalistic in their expression of these defects. This particular trope also provides support for the generalization that relationship violence is premeditated and instrumental in nature along with the assumption that violent partners will continue and escalate violence once started and will not stop of their own accord without intervention.\n\nThe construction of an animalistic, instinctually controlled batterer serves to eschew psychological treatment even of empirically established factors supporting habits of intimate abusiveness. It also plays a role in maintaining control of the definition of the problem” (p. 275) and the only means to clarification is to “disentangle issues of blame, stigma, and censure from issues of etiology, intervention, and outcome” (p. 260). of empirically established factors supporting habits of intimate abusiveness” (p. 257). \n\nTypology of the Batterer\n\nHoltzworth-Munroe and Stuart in looking across various typologies of so called batterers identified three major descriptive dimensions to distinguish sub-types of individuals who engage in various forms of violent behavior in their relationship. These subtypes roughly correspond, as mentioned earlier, to Johnson’s typology of domestic violence that differentiates IPV along measures of severity, frequency, and the presence of a pattern of or absence of coercive control behaviors. The first dimension identified indicates the relevance of violence as a tactical component in the individual’s life and is measured by both the prevalence and severity of violent acts in the relationship. To a large extent, this measure is based on a basic count of acts and measurement of seriousness. The presumption is that severally violent relationships are instigated by individuals who utilize violence frequently as a conflict tactic or as a method of coercive control. The next dimension of differentiation is the generality of the violence, whether it is part of the relationship dynamic alone or is present throughout the individual’s life both inside and outside the relationship and in most instances of conflict. The correlation between the first and second dimension according to Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart is that more frequently and severally violent people are far more likely to be generally violent rather than violent only against their partner. Finally, a distinction is made on a third dimension indicating the presence of psychopathology and personality disorders. This final dimension like the other two has a relationship to the other dimensions where psychological issues are associated concomitantly with generally, severely, and frequently violent individuals. Individuals who display violent behavior only in their intimate relationships are the most typically represented group in subsequent studies and also the least aggressive or violent.\n\nEstimates are that one-third of cohabitating, engaged, and newly wed couples engage in low levels of physical aggression that is symmetrical. These findings suggest that low-levels of physical aggression in younger, less committed relationships is a component of many relational developmental pathways as a method of negotiating power dynamics within the relationship. This hypothesis is supported by Holtzworth-Munroe’s further findings that couples who use low-levels of physical aggression as one tactic of their conflict resolution strategy do not differ from other nonviolent yet distressed relationships on other measures other than the eventual termination of the relationship. \n\nIt is possible to speculate that generally violent anti-social men are also the most likely to utilize violence in an instrumental (e.g., goal motivated, pre-mediated) way and in a coercive fashion in all their relationships giving rise to the convention of a battering type. All indications are that this violence oriented type is an exceptional configuration, whereas the situated violence of Holtzworth-Munroe’s other groups is more expressive (i.e., motivated by anger, frustration, and emotional dysregulation) and far more representative of typical IPV situations. Other typological distinctions also identified factors related to family of origin dysfunction, attachment styles, and communication and relational skills above and beyond issues of personality disorders or psychopathology. These additional distinctions further differentiate individuals within the core categories. The assertion is that the inclusion of typological factors in IPV related research would help to improve policy, treatment, and working models of IPV. Langhinrichsen-Rohlin proposed a “dyadic culture-family-attachment-skill deficit model” of IPV based on existing typological models and the conceptualization of three additional categories of bi-directionally violent couples, dyadic dominance, dyadic dysregulation, and dyadic couple violence and warned that the practice of comparing violent to nonviolent individuals tends to erroneously treat violent individuals as a homogenous group rather than understanding the diversity that distinguishes them from one another. \nAggressive behavior falls out of an array of situational, personality, and developmental characteristics derived from a vastly variegated lived experience of diverse individuals and manifests in a continuum of expressions. Many researchers look at explaining developmental pathways to aggressiveness using theories of attachment, impulsivity (self-control), skills ability, and attitudes in the belief that there are multiple variants at work in the manifestation of violent acts. This model of IPV is strictly intrapersonal, looking only at variations of individual traits without reference to possible social and interpersonal factors that have already been outlined above. \n\n
  • To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described. Frames . . . define problems—determine what a causal agent is doing with what costs and benefits, usually measured in terms of common cultural values; diagnose causes-identify the forces creating the problem; make moral judgments-evaluate causal agents and their effects; and suggest remedies-offer and justify treatments for the problems and predict their likely effects. A culture can be thought of aas a “stock of commonly invoked frames . . . exhibited in the discourse and thinking of most people in a social grouping.” In the case of research, highlighting and extending a frame can help to further illuminate a topic. I will now briefly propose a framing of the individual in relation to IPV as a means of further contextualizing possible interventions.\n\nThe Batterer\n\nAttributions of battering are largely made on the basis of the causal locus of the incidence, the relative stability of the causal factors over time, and the perception of the controllability of the cause as under the volitional control of the individual or not. These dimensions of assessing the actions of a violent partner serve as something of an unconscious litmus test of both accountability and sympathy for the actions of an aggressor by observing others. Carlyle adds,\nAccordingly, from an attribution perspective, if aggressive behavior is viewed as stable and intended or controllable then the attribution should be to hold the aggressor responsible, be angry, and desire retaliation. Conversely, if the behavior is viewed as not intended or not controllable, then the attribution should be to not hold the aggressor responsible, be sympathetic, and not desire retaliation.\n\nThe positing typologies like Johnson’s in domestic violence is in one sense delineating which acts of relationship violence fall into categories of tolerable and intolerable behavior and more importantly, what types of individual offenders by virtue of the type of categorical violent action are truly violent, which are of questionable status, and which should be evaluated by some other criteria altogether. It is conceivable that such distinctions translate into evaluations of who, based on such typologies, could be considered a redeemable individual and who is not. \n\nEvil\n\nKohen stated, “In the absence of human desire, there would be no evil.” In other words, perceptions of actions deemed to be evil in their intent are not separate from the experience of frustrated desire nor the perception of the experience less or more than those affected feel it to be. Desire that desires itself, wrote Denzin, “through the submission of the other to the subject’s will, destroys itself and the other through the very act of realization.” The relationship of violence is immersed in the flowing together of the world of desire and the world of violence and the realization of desire becomes mistaken with the act of violence itself. \n\nThe frustration of basic needs by practices promoting aggression set up patterns of being that continually attempt to bring satisfaction to those needs when life conditions thwart their fulfillment—possibly obstructing the path to continued growth and personal evolution. It is critical to the promotion of a successful human journey that individuals are able to satisfy as many needs as possible for security, self-efficacy, positive identity and connectedness, comprehension of reality, autonomy, and transcendence of self. Humans need to believe that they will be free from physical and psychological harm; that they have the capacity for successful action in the world; to have a positive conception of who they are and are positively connected to others; that the world and people in it make sense; to make independent choices; and to go beyond a focus on, and concern with the self. “The frustration of these needs does not lead to aggression, but it gives rise to psychological and social processes that make aggression more likely.”\n\nThe development of character is a dynamic interplay between what capacities an individual brings to a situation, what a situation calls forth from the individual, and what system is in place to create and maintain a situation. Situations that evoke violence in one individual have the capacity to just as likely ignite the heroic imagination in another. Zimbardo believed, to change the person, one must also change their situation. To change the situation, one must understand where power resides with the connected and interdependent social systems. If researchers start with the assumption of goodness, Zimbardo stated, we should be asking what is responsible rather than who is responsible. What makes inherently good people do bad things? Such questions require a move away from the medical model of treating dysfunctional symptoms of individuals to a more public health model of prevention that focuses on changing situations and systems that are vectors of disease in the world.\n\nVilification\n\nThe problem of IPV is most commonly framed as a problem of battering, and as such, those who perpetrate are vilified as batterers. This in turn shapes what sorts of research and policy questions get asked, how those questions get asked, and how those questions are then answered in terms of policy and program initiatives. Battering as a primary problem definition and descriptive label of the central issue of IPV activates numerous associations and assumptions. The manifestation of some key associations and assumptions are apparent in that the pronouns “batterer” and “he” and “victim” and “she” are commonly used interchangeably in the majority of research articles and media coverage of IPV. The mindset established in the IPV community is one in which perpetrators are almost exclusively male, which it can be argued inadvertently plants a seed of suspicion that any man might be capable of violence against women regardless of history.\n\nGender perceptions aside, Corvo and Johnson state that there are several other assumptions that frame perceptions of a battering person. First is that such individuals all have the same characteristics that, once identified and categorized, will allow for the segmentation of those who are at the greatest risk for perpetration.\n\nThese delineations of batterers and battering give rise according to Corvo and Jonson to, the vilification of the batterer and targets for dismissive, degrading, and stereotypical characterizations. Jacobson for example clusters batterers into “hedonistic and impulsive . . . cobras” and anxiously attached pit bulls effectively creating the impression that these individuals are both defective in their character and animalistic in their expression of these defects. This particular trope also provides support for the generalization that relationship violence is premeditated and instrumental in nature along with the assumption that violent partners will continue and escalate violence once started and will not stop of their own accord without intervention.\n\nThe construction of an animalistic, instinctually controlled batterer serves to eschew psychological treatment even of empirically established factors supporting habits of intimate abusiveness. It also plays a role in maintaining control of the definition of the problem” (p. 275) and the only means to clarification is to “disentangle issues of blame, stigma, and censure from issues of etiology, intervention, and outcome” (p. 260). of empirically established factors supporting habits of intimate abusiveness” (p. 257). \n\nTypology of the Batterer\n\nHoltzworth-Munroe and Stuart in looking across various typologies of so called batterers identified three major descriptive dimensions to distinguish sub-types of individuals who engage in various forms of violent behavior in their relationship. These subtypes roughly correspond, as mentioned earlier, to Johnson’s typology of domestic violence that differentiates IPV along measures of severity, frequency, and the presence of a pattern of or absence of coercive control behaviors. The first dimension identified indicates the relevance of violence as a tactical component in the individual’s life and is measured by both the prevalence and severity of violent acts in the relationship. To a large extent, this measure is based on a basic count of acts and measurement of seriousness. The presumption is that severally violent relationships are instigated by individuals who utilize violence frequently as a conflict tactic or as a method of coercive control. The next dimension of differentiation is the generality of the violence, whether it is part of the relationship dynamic alone or is present throughout the individual’s life both inside and outside the relationship and in most instances of conflict. The correlation between the first and second dimension according to Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart is that more frequently and severally violent people are far more likely to be generally violent rather than violent only against their partner. Finally, a distinction is made on a third dimension indicating the presence of psychopathology and personality disorders. This final dimension like the other two has a relationship to the other dimensions where psychological issues are associated concomitantly with generally, severely, and frequently violent individuals. Individuals who display violent behavior only in their intimate relationships are the most typically represented group in subsequent studies and also the least aggressive or violent.\n\nEstimates are that one-third of cohabitating, engaged, and newly wed couples engage in low levels of physical aggression that is symmetrical. These findings suggest that low-levels of physical aggression in younger, less committed relationships is a component of many relational developmental pathways as a method of negotiating power dynamics within the relationship. This hypothesis is supported by Holtzworth-Munroe’s further findings that couples who use low-levels of physical aggression as one tactic of their conflict resolution strategy do not differ from other nonviolent yet distressed relationships on other measures other than the eventual termination of the relationship. \n\nIt is possible to speculate that generally violent anti-social men are also the most likely to utilize violence in an instrumental (e.g., goal motivated, pre-mediated) way and in a coercive fashion in all their relationships giving rise to the convention of a battering type. All indications are that this violence oriented type is an exceptional configuration, whereas the situated violence of Holtzworth-Munroe’s other groups is more expressive (i.e., motivated by anger, frustration, and emotional dysregulation) and far more representative of typical IPV situations. Other typological distinctions also identified factors related to family of origin dysfunction, attachment styles, and communication and relational skills above and beyond issues of personality disorders or psychopathology. These additional distinctions further differentiate individuals within the core categories. The assertion is that the inclusion of typological factors in IPV related research would help to improve policy, treatment, and working models of IPV. Langhinrichsen-Rohlin proposed a “dyadic culture-family-attachment-skill deficit model” of IPV based on existing typological models and the conceptualization of three additional categories of bi-directionally violent couples, dyadic dominance, dyadic dysregulation, and dyadic couple violence and warned that the practice of comparing violent to nonviolent individuals tends to erroneously treat violent individuals as a homogenous group rather than understanding the diversity that distinguishes them from one another. \nAggressive behavior falls out of an array of situational, personality, and developmental characteristics derived from a vastly variegated lived experience of diverse individuals and manifests in a continuum of expressions. Many researchers look at explaining developmental pathways to aggressiveness using theories of attachment, impulsivity (self-control), skills ability, and attitudes in the belief that there are multiple variants at work in the manifestation of violent acts. This model of IPV is strictly intrapersonal, looking only at variations of individual traits without reference to possible social and interpersonal factors that have already been outlined above. \n\n
  • To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described. Frames . . . define problems—determine what a causal agent is doing with what costs and benefits, usually measured in terms of common cultural values; diagnose causes-identify the forces creating the problem; make moral judgments-evaluate causal agents and their effects; and suggest remedies-offer and justify treatments for the problems and predict their likely effects. A culture can be thought of aas a “stock of commonly invoked frames . . . exhibited in the discourse and thinking of most people in a social grouping.” In the case of research, highlighting and extending a frame can help to further illuminate a topic. I will now briefly propose a framing of the individual in relation to IPV as a means of further contextualizing possible interventions.\n\nThe Batterer\n\nAttributions of battering are largely made on the basis of the causal locus of the incidence, the relative stability of the causal factors over time, and the perception of the controllability of the cause as under the volitional control of the individual or not. These dimensions of assessing the actions of a violent partner serve as something of an unconscious litmus test of both accountability and sympathy for the actions of an aggressor by observing others. Carlyle adds,\nAccordingly, from an attribution perspective, if aggressive behavior is viewed as stable and intended or controllable then the attribution should be to hold the aggressor responsible, be angry, and desire retaliation. Conversely, if the behavior is viewed as not intended or not controllable, then the attribution should be to not hold the aggressor responsible, be sympathetic, and not desire retaliation.\n\nThe positing typologies like Johnson’s in domestic violence is in one sense delineating which acts of relationship violence fall into categories of tolerable and intolerable behavior and more importantly, what types of individual offenders by virtue of the type of categorical violent action are truly violent, which are of questionable status, and which should be evaluated by some other criteria altogether. It is conceivable that such distinctions translate into evaluations of who, based on such typologies, could be considered a redeemable individual and who is not. \n\nEvil\n\nKohen stated, “In the absence of human desire, there would be no evil.” In other words, perceptions of actions deemed to be evil in their intent are not separate from the experience of frustrated desire nor the perception of the experience less or more than those affected feel it to be. Desire that desires itself, wrote Denzin, “through the submission of the other to the subject’s will, destroys itself and the other through the very act of realization.” The relationship of violence is immersed in the flowing together of the world of desire and the world of violence and the realization of desire becomes mistaken with the act of violence itself. \n\nThe frustration of basic needs by practices promoting aggression set up patterns of being that continually attempt to bring satisfaction to those needs when life conditions thwart their fulfillment—possibly obstructing the path to continued growth and personal evolution. It is critical to the promotion of a successful human journey that individuals are able to satisfy as many needs as possible for security, self-efficacy, positive identity and connectedness, comprehension of reality, autonomy, and transcendence of self. Humans need to believe that they will be free from physical and psychological harm; that they have the capacity for successful action in the world; to have a positive conception of who they are and are positively connected to others; that the world and people in it make sense; to make independent choices; and to go beyond a focus on, and concern with the self. “The frustration of these needs does not lead to aggression, but it gives rise to psychological and social processes that make aggression more likely.”\n\nThe development of character is a dynamic interplay between what capacities an individual brings to a situation, what a situation calls forth from the individual, and what system is in place to create and maintain a situation. Situations that evoke violence in one individual have the capacity to just as likely ignite the heroic imagination in another. Zimbardo believed, to change the person, one must also change their situation. To change the situation, one must understand where power resides with the connected and interdependent social systems. If researchers start with the assumption of goodness, Zimbardo stated, we should be asking what is responsible rather than who is responsible. What makes inherently good people do bad things? Such questions require a move away from the medical model of treating dysfunctional symptoms of individuals to a more public health model of prevention that focuses on changing situations and systems that are vectors of disease in the world.\n\nVilification\n\nThe problem of IPV is most commonly framed as a problem of battering, and as such, those who perpetrate are vilified as batterers. This in turn shapes what sorts of research and policy questions get asked, how those questions get asked, and how those questions are then answered in terms of policy and program initiatives. Battering as a primary problem definition and descriptive label of the central issue of IPV activates numerous associations and assumptions. The manifestation of some key associations and assumptions are apparent in that the pronouns “batterer” and “he” and “victim” and “she” are commonly used interchangeably in the majority of research articles and media coverage of IPV. The mindset established in the IPV community is one in which perpetrators are almost exclusively male, which it can be argued inadvertently plants a seed of suspicion that any man might be capable of violence against women regardless of history.\n\nGender perceptions aside, Corvo and Johnson state that there are several other assumptions that frame perceptions of a battering person. First is that such individuals all have the same characteristics that, once identified and categorized, will allow for the segmentation of those who are at the greatest risk for perpetration.\n\nThese delineations of batterers and battering give rise according to Corvo and Jonson to, the vilification of the batterer and targets for dismissive, degrading, and stereotypical characterizations. Jacobson for example clusters batterers into “hedonistic and impulsive . . . cobras” and anxiously attached pit bulls effectively creating the impression that these individuals are both defective in their character and animalistic in their expression of these defects. This particular trope also provides support for the generalization that relationship violence is premeditated and instrumental in nature along with the assumption that violent partners will continue and escalate violence once started and will not stop of their own accord without intervention.\n\nThe construction of an animalistic, instinctually controlled batterer serves to eschew psychological treatment even of empirically established factors supporting habits of intimate abusiveness. It also plays a role in maintaining control of the definition of the problem” (p. 275) and the only means to clarification is to “disentangle issues of blame, stigma, and censure from issues of etiology, intervention, and outcome” (p. 260). of empirically established factors supporting habits of intimate abusiveness” (p. 257). \n\nTypology of the Batterer\n\nHoltzworth-Munroe and Stuart in looking across various typologies of so called batterers identified three major descriptive dimensions to distinguish sub-types of individuals who engage in various forms of violent behavior in their relationship. These subtypes roughly correspond, as mentioned earlier, to Johnson’s typology of domestic violence that differentiates IPV along measures of severity, frequency, and the presence of a pattern of or absence of coercive control behaviors. The first dimension identified indicates the relevance of violence as a tactical component in the individual’s life and is measured by both the prevalence and severity of violent acts in the relationship. To a large extent, this measure is based on a basic count of acts and measurement of seriousness. The presumption is that severally violent relationships are instigated by individuals who utilize violence frequently as a conflict tactic or as a method of coercive control. The next dimension of differentiation is the generality of the violence, whether it is part of the relationship dynamic alone or is present throughout the individual’s life both inside and outside the relationship and in most instances of conflict. The correlation between the first and second dimension according to Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart is that more frequently and severally violent people are far more likely to be generally violent rather than violent only against their partner. Finally, a distinction is made on a third dimension indicating the presence of psychopathology and personality disorders. This final dimension like the other two has a relationship to the other dimensions where psychological issues are associated concomitantly with generally, severely, and frequently violent individuals. Individuals who display violent behavior only in their intimate relationships are the most typically represented group in subsequent studies and also the least aggressive or violent.\n\nEstimates are that one-third of cohabitating, engaged, and newly wed couples engage in low levels of physical aggression that is symmetrical. These findings suggest that low-levels of physical aggression in younger, less committed relationships is a component of many relational developmental pathways as a method of negotiating power dynamics within the relationship. This hypothesis is supported by Holtzworth-Munroe’s further findings that couples who use low-levels of physical aggression as one tactic of their conflict resolution strategy do not differ from other nonviolent yet distressed relationships on other measures other than the eventual termination of the relationship. \n\nIt is possible to speculate that generally violent anti-social men are also the most likely to utilize violence in an instrumental (e.g., goal motivated, pre-mediated) way and in a coercive fashion in all their relationships giving rise to the convention of a battering type. All indications are that this violence oriented type is an exceptional configuration, whereas the situated violence of Holtzworth-Munroe’s other groups is more expressive (i.e., motivated by anger, frustration, and emotional dysregulation) and far more representative of typical IPV situations. Other typological distinctions also identified factors related to family of origin dysfunction, attachment styles, and communication and relational skills above and beyond issues of personality disorders or psychopathology. These additional distinctions further differentiate individuals within the core categories. The assertion is that the inclusion of typological factors in IPV related research would help to improve policy, treatment, and working models of IPV. Langhinrichsen-Rohlin proposed a “dyadic culture-family-attachment-skill deficit model” of IPV based on existing typological models and the conceptualization of three additional categories of bi-directionally violent couples, dyadic dominance, dyadic dysregulation, and dyadic couple violence and warned that the practice of comparing violent to nonviolent individuals tends to erroneously treat violent individuals as a homogenous group rather than understanding the diversity that distinguishes them from one another. \nAggressive behavior falls out of an array of situational, personality, and developmental characteristics derived from a vastly variegated lived experience of diverse individuals and manifests in a continuum of expressions. Many researchers look at explaining developmental pathways to aggressiveness using theories of attachment, impulsivity (self-control), skills ability, and attitudes in the belief that there are multiple variants at work in the manifestation of violent acts. This model of IPV is strictly intrapersonal, looking only at variations of individual traits without reference to possible social and interpersonal factors that have already been outlined above. \n\n
  • To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described. Frames . . . define problems—determine what a causal agent is doing with what costs and benefits, usually measured in terms of common cultural values; diagnose causes-identify the forces creating the problem; make moral judgments-evaluate causal agents and their effects; and suggest remedies-offer and justify treatments for the problems and predict their likely effects. A culture can be thought of aas a “stock of commonly invoked frames . . . exhibited in the discourse and thinking of most people in a social grouping.” In the case of research, highlighting and extending a frame can help to further illuminate a topic. I will now briefly propose a framing of the individual in relation to IPV as a means of further contextualizing possible interventions.\n\nThe Batterer\n\nAttributions of battering are largely made on the basis of the causal locus of the incidence, the relative stability of the causal factors over time, and the perception of the controllability of the cause as under the volitional control of the individual or not. These dimensions of assessing the actions of a violent partner serve as something of an unconscious litmus test of both accountability and sympathy for the actions of an aggressor by observing others. Carlyle adds,\nAccordingly, from an attribution perspective, if aggressive behavior is viewed as stable and intended or controllable then the attribution should be to hold the aggressor responsible, be angry, and desire retaliation. Conversely, if the behavior is viewed as not intended or not controllable, then the attribution should be to not hold the aggressor responsible, be sympathetic, and not desire retaliation.\n\nThe positing typologies like Johnson’s in domestic violence is in one sense delineating which acts of relationship violence fall into categories of tolerable and intolerable behavior and more importantly, what types of individual offenders by virtue of the type of categorical violent action are truly violent, which are of questionable status, and which should be evaluated by some other criteria altogether. It is conceivable that such distinctions translate into evaluations of who, based on such typologies, could be considered a redeemable individual and who is not. \n\nEvil\n\nKohen stated, “In the absence of human desire, there would be no evil.” In other words, perceptions of actions deemed to be evil in their intent are not separate from the experience of frustrated desire nor the perception of the experience less or more than those affected feel it to be. Desire that desires itself, wrote Denzin, “through the submission of the other to the subject’s will, destroys itself and the other through the very act of realization.” The relationship of violence is immersed in the flowing together of the world of desire and the world of violence and the realization of desire becomes mistaken with the act of violence itself. \n\nThe frustration of basic needs by practices promoting aggression set up patterns of being that continually attempt to bring satisfaction to those needs when life conditions thwart their fulfillment—possibly obstructing the path to continued growth and personal evolution. It is critical to the promotion of a successful human journey that individuals are able to satisfy as many needs as possible for security, self-efficacy, positive identity and connectedness, comprehension of reality, autonomy, and transcendence of self. Humans need to believe that they will be free from physical and psychological harm; that they have the capacity for successful action in the world; to have a positive conception of who they are and are positively connected to others; that the world and people in it make sense; to make independent choices; and to go beyond a focus on, and concern with the self. “The frustration of these needs does not lead to aggression, but it gives rise to psychological and social processes that make aggression more likely.”\n\nThe development of character is a dynamic interplay between what capacities an individual brings to a situation, what a situation calls forth from the individual, and what system is in place to create and maintain a situation. Situations that evoke violence in one individual have the capacity to just as likely ignite the heroic imagination in another. Zimbardo believed, to change the person, one must also change their situation. To change the situation, one must understand where power resides with the connected and interdependent social systems. If researchers start with the assumption of goodness, Zimbardo stated, we should be asking what is responsible rather than who is responsible. What makes inherently good people do bad things? Such questions require a move away from the medical model of treating dysfunctional symptoms of individuals to a more public health model of prevention that focuses on changing situations and systems that are vectors of disease in the world.\n\nVilification\n\nThe problem of IPV is most commonly framed as a problem of battering, and as such, those who perpetrate are vilified as batterers. This in turn shapes what sorts of research and policy questions get asked, how those questions get asked, and how those questions are then answered in terms of policy and program initiatives. Battering as a primary problem definition and descriptive label of the central issue of IPV activates numerous associations and assumptions. The manifestation of some key associations and assumptions are apparent in that the pronouns “batterer” and “he” and “victim” and “she” are commonly used interchangeably in the majority of research articles and media coverage of IPV. The mindset established in the IPV community is one in which perpetrators are almost exclusively male, which it can be argued inadvertently plants a seed of suspicion that any man might be capable of violence against women regardless of history.\n\nGender perceptions aside, Corvo and Johnson state that there are several other assumptions that frame perceptions of a battering person. First is that such individuals all have the same characteristics that, once identified and categorized, will allow for the segmentation of those who are at the greatest risk for perpetration.\n\nThese delineations of batterers and battering give rise according to Corvo and Jonson to, the vilification of the batterer and targets for dismissive, degrading, and stereotypical characterizations. Jacobson for example clusters batterers into “hedonistic and impulsive . . . cobras” and anxiously attached pit bulls effectively creating the impression that these individuals are both defective in their character and animalistic in their expression of these defects. This particular trope also provides support for the generalization that relationship violence is premeditated and instrumental in nature along with the assumption that violent partners will continue and escalate violence once started and will not stop of their own accord without intervention.\n\nThe construction of an animalistic, instinctually controlled batterer serves to eschew psychological treatment even of empirically established factors supporting habits of intimate abusiveness. It also plays a role in maintaining control of the definition of the problem” (p. 275) and the only means to clarification is to “disentangle issues of blame, stigma, and censure from issues of etiology, intervention, and outcome” (p. 260). of empirically established factors supporting habits of intimate abusiveness” (p. 257). \n\nTypology of the Batterer\n\nHoltzworth-Munroe and Stuart in looking across various typologies of so called batterers identified three major descriptive dimensions to distinguish sub-types of individuals who engage in various forms of violent behavior in their relationship. These subtypes roughly correspond, as mentioned earlier, to Johnson’s typology of domestic violence that differentiates IPV along measures of severity, frequency, and the presence of a pattern of or absence of coercive control behaviors. The first dimension identified indicates the relevance of violence as a tactical component in the individual’s life and is measured by both the prevalence and severity of violent acts in the relationship. To a large extent, this measure is based on a basic count of acts and measurement of seriousness. The presumption is that severally violent relationships are instigated by individuals who utilize violence frequently as a conflict tactic or as a method of coercive control. The next dimension of differentiation is the generality of the violence, whether it is part of the relationship dynamic alone or is present throughout the individual’s life both inside and outside the relationship and in most instances of conflict. The correlation between the first and second dimension according to Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart is that more frequently and severally violent people are far more likely to be generally violent rather than violent only against their partner. Finally, a distinction is made on a third dimension indicating the presence of psychopathology and personality disorders. This final dimension like the other two has a relationship to the other dimensions where psychological issues are associated concomitantly with generally, severely, and frequently violent individuals. Individuals who display violent behavior only in their intimate relationships are the most typically represented group in subsequent studies and also the least aggressive or violent.\n\nEstimates are that one-third of cohabitating, engaged, and newly wed couples engage in low levels of physical aggression that is symmetrical. These findings suggest that low-levels of physical aggression in younger, less committed relationships is a component of many relational developmental pathways as a method of negotiating power dynamics within the relationship. This hypothesis is supported by Holtzworth-Munroe’s further findings that couples who use low-levels of physical aggression as one tactic of their conflict resolution strategy do not differ from other nonviolent yet distressed relationships on other measures other than the eventual termination of the relationship. \n\nIt is possible to speculate that generally violent anti-social men are also the most likely to utilize violence in an instrumental (e.g., goal motivated, pre-mediated) way and in a coercive fashion in all their relationships giving rise to the convention of a battering type. All indications are that this violence oriented type is an exceptional configuration, whereas the situated violence of Holtzworth-Munroe’s other groups is more expressive (i.e., motivated by anger, frustration, and emotional dysregulation) and far more representative of typical IPV situations. Other typological distinctions also identified factors related to family of origin dysfunction, attachment styles, and communication and relational skills above and beyond issues of personality disorders or psychopathology. These additional distinctions further differentiate individuals within the core categories. The assertion is that the inclusion of typological factors in IPV related research would help to improve policy, treatment, and working models of IPV. Langhinrichsen-Rohlin proposed a “dyadic culture-family-attachment-skill deficit model” of IPV based on existing typological models and the conceptualization of three additional categories of bi-directionally violent couples, dyadic dominance, dyadic dysregulation, and dyadic couple violence and warned that the practice of comparing violent to nonviolent individuals tends to erroneously treat violent individuals as a homogenous group rather than understanding the diversity that distinguishes them from one another. \nAggressive behavior falls out of an array of situational, personality, and developmental characteristics derived from a vastly variegated lived experience of diverse individuals and manifests in a continuum of expressions. Many researchers look at explaining developmental pathways to aggressiveness using theories of attachment, impulsivity (self-control), skills ability, and attitudes in the belief that there are multiple variants at work in the manifestation of violent acts. This model of IPV is strictly intrapersonal, looking only at variations of individual traits without reference to possible social and interpersonal factors that have already been outlined above. \n\n
  • Phenomenology of IPV\n\nDesire is a lack of being. As such it is directly supported by the being of which it is a lack. This being, as we have said, is the in-itself-for-itself, consciousness become substance, substance become the cause of itself, the Man-God. Thus the being of human reality is originally not a substance but a lived relation. Nevertheless desire is not defined solely in relation to the In-itself-asself-cause. It is also relative to a brute, concrete existent which we commonly call the object of the desire. (Sartre, 2001, pp. 575-576)\n\nIt is difficult to articulating what is a “basic core of capability” whose activation requires specific catalysts as opposed to what acquired or transmitted qualities might be. Zimbardo refered to the task as trying to distinguish bad apples (dispositional traits) from bad barrels (situational factors) from bad barrel makers (systemic influences of politics, economics, cultural, religious, and legal systems).\n\nA dialogical self most often experiences relationship as an experience of continuity and discontinuity rather than one of absolute coherence. There is first a continuity between the experience of others as perceived extensions of one and the same individual self; a sense of we or mine. However, there is also a discontinuity between the same characters “as far as they represent different and perhaps opposed voices in the spatial realm of the self.” The experience of discontinuity or incoherence in relatedness can become pathologized in the psyche of the individual as insecure attachments, borderline traits, splitting, multiple identities, and dysphoria along with the perception that the partner, as an element of the extended self, is the source of these problems. Incorporation into the extended self of another can have significant psychological and physical effects and the reality for many couples is that they retain the strong emotional and historical ties to their partner even if the relationship becomes violent or abusive. The emotional tie to a violent partner emerges from a history fusing the sense of self through intimate knowledge of the other and creation of a shared reality. However, the development in the relationship of a violent system of exchange will eventually destroy the very values on which the relationship was initially built. Terminating the relationship may serve to end the existing violent interactions, but at the great expense of abandoning valued extensions of the self built over some period of time. This perhaps explains why dating relationships are more easily ended when they become violent than are longer more mature relationships.\n\nRelationship violence viewed as a lived experience rather than as described behavior or statistical anomaly present in survey observations, assumes that violence in relationship is a situated, interpersonal, emotional, and cognitive activity involving negative symbolic interactions between intimates. The self and its feelings, the persons defining emotionality is at the core of violent conduct. If emotionality is understood as self-feelings directed toward self and others, violence can be understood only from the point of view of feeling, self-reflective, violent individuals. The feeling self of the individual is not in consciousness however, but in the world of social interaction where meanings emerge from the couple’s situated dynamics, what Denzin refers to as the schismogenic process of negative symbolic interaction and relational structures of bad faith. Bad faith or the negation of ones self as Sartre put it, insures that violent acts—resultant of the couple’s mutual denial—become an enduring form of interaction in frequently violent relationships. On the other hand, the process of schismogenesis, at once temporal, historical, dialectical, and self-referencing causes normal conflict to become a dialectic of violence as emergent, spurious, and fearful spontaneous interactions bind the couple together in negative and destructive attachment rather than with the intimacy, closeness, and “we-ness” they inevitably seek to reclaim from the other partner in their use of control and force.\n\nRisk Factors\n\nNot only do risk factors culminate in violent events in the relationship, but they can also contribute to and often co-occur with issues of substance abuse, anti-social and borderline behaviors, general poor mental health, and both deviance in youth and in the most extreme cases, general violence and criminality. For the most part, none of these issues are mutually exclusive to the individual or the relationship although they are often examined in isolation throughout much of the IPV research. What researchers are most often looking for in IPV studies are common risk factors that are (a) social and psychological in origin, (b) lead to violence against a partner and to some extent violent behavior generally in some populations, (c) stem from particular developmental influences from community and family of origin (microsystems), and are (d) enacted in a particular relational context, cued by real, exaggerated, or feared rejection or threat. The complexity of psychological risk reveals domestic violence perpetration as a disorder primarily of poor impulse control, neuropsychological vulnerability, chemical dependency, and intimacy dysfunction. A situational perspective of IPV should focus on the occurrence of violence and on the surrounding circumstances and consequences of the event by identifying the predispositions and motivations establishing violent conditions. However, far more is known about the traits that individuals bring to the relationship as contributing factors than there is knowledge about relevant domains of violent interactions. Risk factors associated with marital satisfaction, attitudes condoning violence and traditional sex-role ideology, life stressors, alcohol and drug use suggest the importance of accounting for such factors in treatment programs. Relational skills surrounding communication and conflict resolution, in addition to the situational factors already mentioned, present contributing factors to the extent that the couple’s pattern of communication endorses escalation or resolution of conflict and relationship power is shared or contested. Out of the broad set of predictive factors examined in relationship, receipt of physical violence from one's partner emerged as the largest predictor of expressed violence for both men and women. In addition, higher scores on attitudes toward violence and verbal aggression, and less traditional sex-role attitudes emerge as significant predictors of expressed violence for men. For women, less accepting attitudes toward violence, more traditional sex-role attitudes, feelings of romantic jealousy, higher general levels of interpersonal aggression, and verbal aggression were predictive of expressed violence.\n\nFinkel (2007) most concisely attempts to integrate and organize the significant number of IPV risk factors by categorizing the degree to which each may contribute to either strengthening the person’s violence-impelling forces or weakening their violence-inhibiting forces. The conception of both impelling and inhibiting factors provides a psychological motivational framework that cuts to the core of IPV’s primary issue of needing to control one’s partner and surrounding environment, or the need (rather than a general motivation) to regulate a partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a symbolic extension of self-control or the degree to which a person is capable of regulating his or her own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors specifically with their intimate partner.\n\nThe damaged self\n\nIn the largest study ever of its kind, Felitti established a clear relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and risks to both physical and mental health along with the development of high risk behaviors leading to disease, social, and relational problems. This study and subsequent finding have linked these data to specific disorders and behaviors that are strongly associated with IPV--Specifically the relationship between violent childhood experiences and the risk of IPV in adults. Findings also verify that witnessing of parent violence, and childhood maltreatment are the most frequently co-occuring features and perhaps greatest contributors to both the perpetration of violence against an intimate partner and the victimization by an intimate partner. The ACE study bridges empirical gaps in the origins of risk factors by linking social, emotional, and cognitive impairments resulting from adverse childhood experiences to maladaptive and risky behaviors that lead to disability, social, and relational problems. Through the mechanism of attachment processes, these adverse childhood experiences are translated from distal influences of violence exposure, maltreatment, and inculturation to more proximal dispositions associated with strong violence-impelling forces of emotionality (anger), attachment anxiety, dysthemia, borderline personality organization, and anti-socialism as well as those traits that contribute to weak violence inhibiting forces such as affect dysregulation (low self control), low empathy, psychopathy, and faulty beliefs about IPV. These traits are then drawn out by both relational and situational factors already partially enumerated erlier. This developmental sequence accounts for most if not all of the features associated with the most common forms of IPV, yet many researchers continue to measure prevalence, describe incidences, and argue ideological perspective rather than trace such linkages for more complete understanding of the underlying causes of violence in the relationship.\n\nCurrent conceptions of IPV partake of both an evil or bad model that blames individual behavior and the deviance model that sees individuals in need of corrective action. Since these models naturally fall out of a conception of IPV strictly as an issue of patriarchal control, it is natural that the potential responses share the same framework and follow a pattern of authority, control, and force directed toward punitive reaction in the form of criminal sanctions. The model of IPV that embraces psychological, developmental, and relational conceptions of violent actions rather sees individuals in violent relationships as inflicted and potentially damaged souls, performing the significations of their injury in circumstances often hostile to their aims, and ultimately in dire need of therapeutic restoration.\n\nRelational Attachment\n\nThe attachment style of adults really refers to the particular internal working model formed through the individual’s interpersonal experiences and dictating their responses to real or imagined separation from important attachment figures. They are generalized models of self and others in relationship and shape the regulation of affect in response to the configuration of that relatedness. Application of attachment theory places IPV within a systems perspective framework that recognizes the use of violent action as one of many means for regulating perceived closeness and distance between partners in the relationship and with it, the perceived capacity for self-regulation. \n\nA study by Locke revealed that situational interpersonal goals in an adult’s everyday life remain strongly linked to enduring attachment styles developed early in life and reinforced by experiences throughout their lifespan. Several studies have also positioned attachment as a useful model for understanding the frequent and incongruous co-occurrence of both violence and intimacy within the same relationship. IPV research strongly supports a two-dimensional conceptualization of dysfunctional attachment involving both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. Attachment avoidance is characterized by a pervasive discomfort with intimate closeness and a strong orientation toward self-reliant and counterdependent relationship behavior. Attachment anxiety is represented by low self-esteem, pervasive fears of partner rejection and abandonment, and dependent relationship behavior. Whereas the avoidant dimension is closely related with a negative model of others, a negative model of self is associated with anxious attachment. Because a primary aspect of the attachment system is affect regulation, control over the relationship then, may be of immense concern and importance to individuals with insecure attachment. Control over the relationship could translate into control over intimacy for these people. Obtaining and maintaining control of the relationship could therefore be instrumental in controlling anxiety and fear associated with intimacy and closeness. The premise is that anxiously attached partners will engage in overt expressions of aggression and control as a means of retaining closeness to their partner if they perceive their partner as slipping away during conflicts. On the other hand, the generally hostile interpersonal orientation and negative models of others that characterize avoidantly attached partners may cause more distress from fears of engulfment and partner assertion, leading to the use of coercion and control as a means of intimidating and controlling a partner.\n\nWhile relationships are often viewed as the result of individuals contributing their specific characteristics and traits to make up a specific dynamic, there is reason to believe that a relationship is also shaped by specific combinations of individual characteristics that form autonomous relationship phenomena beyond the traits of the individuals. The stand for example supporting that attachment security is an attribute of the relationship is based on a systemic view according to which partners provide the environment for one another, thus, mutually affecting each other. The discrepancy between preferred levels of intimacy by a partner and perceived increases or decreases of intimacy or changes in the socioemotional distance between the partners can have a profound impact on the quality of the relationship, relationship satisfaction, and can serve as an instigator of relationship aggression and violence. The mispairing of individuals with different needs for closeness and distance based on their attachment endorsements in addition to perceptions regarding changes socioemotional distance may be related to episodes of IPV. \nAttachment theory addresses the mechanism by which partners construct the reality of their relationship in that incoming information and emotional and behavioral responses are processed and filtered through the internal working model organized by the individual’s attachment perspective. Finally, the level of security each relationship forms appears to yield itself to the level of the dyad as the expression of attachment (secure, insecure, or mixed) is not found to be dependent on which partner presents a specific attachment style. It may therefore be that the bolstering or undermining of the relationship quality, the individuals’ satisfaction within it, and the level of emotional support—ergo the perception of relationship security—is a function of the dyadic structure not just the individuals within.\n\nAffect regulation: the impelling and inhibition of aggression\n\nBowlby conceptualized attachment as a facilitating factor of the human beings major self-regulatory or emotional and behavioral control systems. When functioning properly, this system regulates psychical energy in the form of anxiety such that people are able to appraise the self and the environment as a felt bodily experience. These appraisals are in turn constructed into internal working models (or complexes) that unconsciously inform the emotions and behaviors of the individual as they interact with their environment and others, and build a sense of agency through the resultant mechanism of developing self-efficacy). The developing self in the context of attachment activated processes is “conceptualized as the transformation of external into internal regulation” that emerges over time as increasingly complex forms of self-regulation and “the quality of early attachment is known to affect social relationships later in life.” Traumatic disruption of the attachment process often leads to dysregulation of impulsive and inhibiting factors of the self-regulatory system and can adversely affect mental health and the healthy progression of intimate relationships.\n\nIt is believed that the propensity for impulsive aggression, which is relatively unplanned and spontaneous but often culminates in physical violence, is associated with a low threshold for activating negative affect and with a failure to respond appropriately to the anticipated harmful consequences of behaving aggressively. Socio-psychological research underscores the relation between cognition, emotion, and aggression; negative affect such as fear and anxiety frequently precipitates, accentuates, and modulates aggressive behavior. Thus, it appears reasonable that neural circuitries that affect emotional states, also affect the predisposition towards aggressive behaviors.\n\nPeople in relationships frequently experience violent impulses toward each other without acting upon them. Violence would surely occur more frequently without such impulses being constrained by significant inhibiting factors. As such, attention should be given to factors that contribute to the transformation of these impulses into violent behavior rather than the cognitions alone. It was found for example that strong emotional reactivity generated from anxious attachment styles and conversely emotional cutoff from avoidant attachment styles were highly predictive of interpersonal conflict in relationships. These theoretical perspectives and findings are of critical importance to IPV research as they suggest direct, causal factors for relationship violence that could potentially be mitigated by preventive behaviors and pro-social support structures along with the application of well established trauma therapies as intervention models.\n\n\n\n
  • Phenomenology of IPV\n\nDesire is a lack of being. As such it is directly supported by the being of which it is a lack. This being, as we have said, is the in-itself-for-itself, consciousness become substance, substance become the cause of itself, the Man-God. Thus the being of human reality is originally not a substance but a lived relation. Nevertheless desire is not defined solely in relation to the In-itself-asself-cause. It is also relative to a brute, concrete existent which we commonly call the object of the desire. (Sartre, 2001, pp. 575-576)\n\nIt is difficult to articulating what is a “basic core of capability” whose activation requires specific catalysts as opposed to what acquired or transmitted qualities might be. Zimbardo refered to the task as trying to distinguish bad apples (dispositional traits) from bad barrels (situational factors) from bad barrel makers (systemic influences of politics, economics, cultural, religious, and legal systems).\n\nA dialogical self most often experiences relationship as an experience of continuity and discontinuity rather than one of absolute coherence. There is first a continuity between the experience of others as perceived extensions of one and the same individual self; a sense of we or mine. However, there is also a discontinuity between the same characters “as far as they represent different and perhaps opposed voices in the spatial realm of the self.” The experience of discontinuity or incoherence in relatedness can become pathologized in the psyche of the individual as insecure attachments, borderline traits, splitting, multiple identities, and dysphoria along with the perception that the partner, as an element of the extended self, is the source of these problems. Incorporation into the extended self of another can have significant psychological and physical effects and the reality for many couples is that they retain the strong emotional and historical ties to their partner even if the relationship becomes violent or abusive. The emotional tie to a violent partner emerges from a history fusing the sense of self through intimate knowledge of the other and creation of a shared reality. However, the development in the relationship of a violent system of exchange will eventually destroy the very values on which the relationship was initially built. Terminating the relationship may serve to end the existing violent interactions, but at the great expense of abandoning valued extensions of the self built over some period of time. This perhaps explains why dating relationships are more easily ended when they become violent than are longer more mature relationships.\n\nRelationship violence viewed as a lived experience rather than as described behavior or statistical anomaly present in survey observations, assumes that violence in relationship is a situated, interpersonal, emotional, and cognitive activity involving negative symbolic interactions between intimates. The self and its feelings, the persons defining emotionality is at the core of violent conduct. If emotionality is understood as self-feelings directed toward self and others, violence can be understood only from the point of view of feeling, self-reflective, violent individuals. The feeling self of the individual is not in consciousness however, but in the world of social interaction where meanings emerge from the couple’s situated dynamics, what Denzin refers to as the schismogenic process of negative symbolic interaction and relational structures of bad faith. Bad faith or the negation of ones self as Sartre put it, insures that violent acts—resultant of the couple’s mutual denial—become an enduring form of interaction in frequently violent relationships. On the other hand, the process of schismogenesis, at once temporal, historical, dialectical, and self-referencing causes normal conflict to become a dialectic of violence as emergent, spurious, and fearful spontaneous interactions bind the couple together in negative and destructive attachment rather than with the intimacy, closeness, and “we-ness” they inevitably seek to reclaim from the other partner in their use of control and force.\n\nRisk Factors\n\nNot only do risk factors culminate in violent events in the relationship, but they can also contribute to and often co-occur with issues of substance abuse, anti-social and borderline behaviors, general poor mental health, and both deviance in youth and in the most extreme cases, general violence and criminality. For the most part, none of these issues are mutually exclusive to the individual or the relationship although they are often examined in isolation throughout much of the IPV research. What researchers are most often looking for in IPV studies are common risk factors that are (a) social and psychological in origin, (b) lead to violence against a partner and to some extent violent behavior generally in some populations, (c) stem from particular developmental influences from community and family of origin (microsystems), and are (d) enacted in a particular relational context, cued by real, exaggerated, or feared rejection or threat. The complexity of psychological risk reveals domestic violence perpetration as a disorder primarily of poor impulse control, neuropsychological vulnerability, chemical dependency, and intimacy dysfunction. A situational perspective of IPV should focus on the occurrence of violence and on the surrounding circumstances and consequences of the event by identifying the predispositions and motivations establishing violent conditions. However, far more is known about the traits that individuals bring to the relationship as contributing factors than there is knowledge about relevant domains of violent interactions. Risk factors associated with marital satisfaction, attitudes condoning violence and traditional sex-role ideology, life stressors, alcohol and drug use suggest the importance of accounting for such factors in treatment programs. Relational skills surrounding communication and conflict resolution, in addition to the situational factors already mentioned, present contributing factors to the extent that the couple’s pattern of communication endorses escalation or resolution of conflict and relationship power is shared or contested. Out of the broad set of predictive factors examined in relationship, receipt of physical violence from one's partner emerged as the largest predictor of expressed violence for both men and women. In addition, higher scores on attitudes toward violence and verbal aggression, and less traditional sex-role attitudes emerge as significant predictors of expressed violence for men. For women, less accepting attitudes toward violence, more traditional sex-role attitudes, feelings of romantic jealousy, higher general levels of interpersonal aggression, and verbal aggression were predictive of expressed violence.\n\nFinkel (2007) most concisely attempts to integrate and organize the significant number of IPV risk factors by categorizing the degree to which each may contribute to either strengthening the person’s violence-impelling forces or weakening their violence-inhibiting forces. The conception of both impelling and inhibiting factors provides a psychological motivational framework that cuts to the core of IPV’s primary issue of needing to control one’s partner and surrounding environment, or the need (rather than a general motivation) to regulate a partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a symbolic extension of self-control or the degree to which a person is capable of regulating his or her own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors specifically with their intimate partner.\n\nThe damaged self\n\nIn the largest study ever of its kind, Felitti established a clear relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and risks to both physical and mental health along with the development of high risk behaviors leading to disease, social, and relational problems. This study and subsequent finding have linked these data to specific disorders and behaviors that are strongly associated with IPV--Specifically the relationship between violent childhood experiences and the risk of IPV in adults. Findings also verify that witnessing of parent violence, and childhood maltreatment are the most frequently co-occuring features and perhaps greatest contributors to both the perpetration of violence against an intimate partner and the victimization by an intimate partner. The ACE study bridges empirical gaps in the origins of risk factors by linking social, emotional, and cognitive impairments resulting from adverse childhood experiences to maladaptive and risky behaviors that lead to disability, social, and relational problems. Through the mechanism of attachment processes, these adverse childhood experiences are translated from distal influences of violence exposure, maltreatment, and inculturation to more proximal dispositions associated with strong violence-impelling forces of emotionality (anger), attachment anxiety, dysthemia, borderline personality organization, and anti-socialism as well as those traits that contribute to weak violence inhibiting forces such as affect dysregulation (low self control), low empathy, psychopathy, and faulty beliefs about IPV. These traits are then drawn out by both relational and situational factors already partially enumerated erlier. This developmental sequence accounts for most if not all of the features associated with the most common forms of IPV, yet many researchers continue to measure prevalence, describe incidences, and argue ideological perspective rather than trace such linkages for more complete understanding of the underlying causes of violence in the relationship.\n\nCurrent conceptions of IPV partake of both an evil or bad model that blames individual behavior and the deviance model that sees individuals in need of corrective action. Since these models naturally fall out of a conception of IPV strictly as an issue of patriarchal control, it is natural that the potential responses share the same framework and follow a pattern of authority, control, and force directed toward punitive reaction in the form of criminal sanctions. The model of IPV that embraces psychological, developmental, and relational conceptions of violent actions rather sees individuals in violent relationships as inflicted and potentially damaged souls, performing the significations of their injury in circumstances often hostile to their aims, and ultimately in dire need of therapeutic restoration.\n\nRelational Attachment\n\nThe attachment style of adults really refers to the particular internal working model formed through the individual’s interpersonal experiences and dictating their responses to real or imagined separation from important attachment figures. They are generalized models of self and others in relationship and shape the regulation of affect in response to the configuration of that relatedness. Application of attachment theory places IPV within a systems perspective framework that recognizes the use of violent action as one of many means for regulating perceived closeness and distance between partners in the relationship and with it, the perceived capacity for self-regulation. \n\nA study by Locke revealed that situational interpersonal goals in an adult’s everyday life remain strongly linked to enduring attachment styles developed early in life and reinforced by experiences throughout their lifespan. Several studies have also positioned attachment as a useful model for understanding the frequent and incongruous co-occurrence of both violence and intimacy within the same relationship. IPV research strongly supports a two-dimensional conceptualization of dysfunctional attachment involving both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. Attachment avoidance is characterized by a pervasive discomfort with intimate closeness and a strong orientation toward self-reliant and counterdependent relationship behavior. Attachment anxiety is represented by low self-esteem, pervasive fears of partner rejection and abandonment, and dependent relationship behavior. Whereas the avoidant dimension is closely related with a negative model of others, a negative model of self is associated with anxious attachment. Because a primary aspect of the attachment system is affect regulation, control over the relationship then, may be of immense concern and importance to individuals with insecure attachment. Control over the relationship could translate into control over intimacy for these people. Obtaining and maintaining control of the relationship could therefore be instrumental in controlling anxiety and fear associated with intimacy and closeness. The premise is that anxiously attached partners will engage in overt expressions of aggression and control as a means of retaining closeness to their partner if they perceive their partner as slipping away during conflicts. On the other hand, the generally hostile interpersonal orientation and negative models of others that characterize avoidantly attached partners may cause more distress from fears of engulfment and partner assertion, leading to the use of coercion and control as a means of intimidating and controlling a partner.\n\nWhile relationships are often viewed as the result of individuals contributing their specific characteristics and traits to make up a specific dynamic, there is reason to believe that a relationship is also shaped by specific combinations of individual characteristics that form autonomous relationship phenomena beyond the traits of the individuals. The stand for example supporting that attachment security is an attribute of the relationship is based on a systemic view according to which partners provide the environment for one another, thus, mutually affecting each other. The discrepancy between preferred levels of intimacy by a partner and perceived increases or decreases of intimacy or changes in the socioemotional distance between the partners can have a profound impact on the quality of the relationship, relationship satisfaction, and can serve as an instigator of relationship aggression and violence. The mispairing of individuals with different needs for closeness and distance based on their attachment endorsements in addition to perceptions regarding changes socioemotional distance may be related to episodes of IPV. \nAttachment theory addresses the mechanism by which partners construct the reality of their relationship in that incoming information and emotional and behavioral responses are processed and filtered through the internal working model organized by the individual’s attachment perspective. Finally, the level of security each relationship forms appears to yield itself to the level of the dyad as the expression of attachment (secure, insecure, or mixed) is not found to be dependent on which partner presents a specific attachment style. It may therefore be that the bolstering or undermining of the relationship quality, the individuals’ satisfaction within it, and the level of emotional support—ergo the perception of relationship security—is a function of the dyadic structure not just the individuals within.\n\nAffect regulation: the impelling and inhibition of aggression\n\nBowlby conceptualized attachment as a facilitating factor of the human beings major self-regulatory or emotional and behavioral control systems. When functioning properly, this system regulates psychical energy in the form of anxiety such that people are able to appraise the self and the environment as a felt bodily experience. These appraisals are in turn constructed into internal working models (or complexes) that unconsciously inform the emotions and behaviors of the individual as they interact with their environment and others, and build a sense of agency through the resultant mechanism of developing self-efficacy). The developing self in the context of attachment activated processes is “conceptualized as the transformation of external into internal regulation” that emerges over time as increasingly complex forms of self-regulation and “the quality of early attachment is known to affect social relationships later in life.” Traumatic disruption of the attachment process often leads to dysregulation of impulsive and inhibiting factors of the self-regulatory system and can adversely affect mental health and the healthy progression of intimate relationships.\n\nIt is believed that the propensity for impulsive aggression, which is relatively unplanned and spontaneous but often culminates in physical violence, is associated with a low threshold for activating negative affect and with a failure to respond appropriately to the anticipated harmful consequences of behaving aggressively. Socio-psychological research underscores the relation between cognition, emotion, and aggression; negative affect such as fear and anxiety frequently precipitates, accentuates, and modulates aggressive behavior. Thus, it appears reasonable that neural circuitries that affect emotional states, also affect the predisposition towards aggressive behaviors.\n\nPeople in relationships frequently experience violent impulses toward each other without acting upon them. Violence would surely occur more frequently without such impulses being constrained by significant inhibiting factors. As such, attention should be given to factors that contribute to the transformation of these impulses into violent behavior rather than the cognitions alone. It was found for example that strong emotional reactivity generated from anxious attachment styles and conversely emotional cutoff from avoidant attachment styles were highly predictive of interpersonal conflict in relationships. These theoretical perspectives and findings are of critical importance to IPV research as they suggest direct, causal factors for relationship violence that could potentially be mitigated by preventive behaviors and pro-social support structures along with the application of well established trauma therapies as intervention models.\n\n\n\n
  • Phenomenology of IPV\n\nDesire is a lack of being. As such it is directly supported by the being of which it is a lack. This being, as we have said, is the in-itself-for-itself, consciousness become substance, substance become the cause of itself, the Man-God. Thus the being of human reality is originally not a substance but a lived relation. Nevertheless desire is not defined solely in relation to the In-itself-asself-cause. It is also relative to a brute, concrete existent which we commonly call the object of the desire. (Sartre, 2001, pp. 575-576)\n\nIt is difficult to articulating what is a “basic core of capability” whose activation requires specific catalysts as opposed to what acquired or transmitted qualities might be. Zimbardo refered to the task as trying to distinguish bad apples (dispositional traits) from bad barrels (situational factors) from bad barrel makers (systemic influences of politics, economics, cultural, religious, and legal systems).\n\nA dialogical self most often experiences relationship as an experience of continuity and discontinuity rather than one of absolute coherence. There is first a continuity between the experience of others as perceived extensions of one and the same individual self; a sense of we or mine. However, there is also a discontinuity between the same characters “as far as they represent different and perhaps opposed voices in the spatial realm of the self.” The experience of discontinuity or incoherence in relatedness can become pathologized in the psyche of the individual as insecure attachments, borderline traits, splitting, multiple identities, and dysphoria along with the perception that the partner, as an element of the extended self, is the source of these problems. Incorporation into the extended self of another can have significant psychological and physical effects and the reality for many couples is that they retain the strong emotional and historical ties to their partner even if the relationship becomes violent or abusive. The emotional tie to a violent partner emerges from a history fusing the sense of self through intimate knowledge of the other and creation of a shared reality. However, the development in the relationship of a violent system of exchange will eventually destroy the very values on which the relationship was initially built. Terminating the relationship may serve to end the existing violent interactions, but at the great expense of abandoning valued extensions of the self built over some period of time. This perhaps explains why dating relationships are more easily ended when they become violent than are longer more mature relationships.\n\nRelationship violence viewed as a lived experience rather than as described behavior or statistical anomaly present in survey observations, assumes that violence in relationship is a situated, interpersonal, emotional, and cognitive activity involving negative symbolic interactions between intimates. The self and its feelings, the persons defining emotionality is at the core of violent conduct. If emotionality is understood as self-feelings directed toward self and others, violence can be understood only from the point of view of feeling, self-reflective, violent individuals. The feeling self of the individual is not in consciousness however, but in the world of social interaction where meanings emerge from the couple’s situated dynamics, what Denzin refers to as the schismogenic process of negative symbolic interaction and relational structures of bad faith. Bad faith or the negation of ones self as Sartre put it, insures that violent acts—resultant of the couple’s mutual denial—become an enduring form of interaction in frequently violent relationships. On the other hand, the process of schismogenesis, at once temporal, historical, dialectical, and self-referencing causes normal conflict to become a dialectic of violence as emergent, spurious, and fearful spontaneous interactions bind the couple together in negative and destructive attachment rather than with the intimacy, closeness, and “we-ness” they inevitably seek to reclaim from the other partner in their use of control and force.\n\nRisk Factors\n\nNot only do risk factors culminate in violent events in the relationship, but they can also contribute to and often co-occur with issues of substance abuse, anti-social and borderline behaviors, general poor mental health, and both deviance in youth and in the most extreme cases, general violence and criminality. For the most part, none of these issues are mutually exclusive to the individual or the relationship although they are often examined in isolation throughout much of the IPV research. What researchers are most often looking for in IPV studies are common risk factors that are (a) social and psychological in origin, (b) lead to violence against a partner and to some extent violent behavior generally in some populations, (c) stem from particular developmental influences from community and family of origin (microsystems), and are (d) enacted in a particular relational context, cued by real, exaggerated, or feared rejection or threat. The complexity of psychological risk reveals domestic violence perpetration as a disorder primarily of poor impulse control, neuropsychological vulnerability, chemical dependency, and intimacy dysfunction. A situational perspective of IPV should focus on the occurrence of violence and on the surrounding circumstances and consequences of the event by identifying the predispositions and motivations establishing violent conditions. However, far more is known about the traits that individuals bring to the relationship as contributing factors than there is knowledge about relevant domains of violent interactions. Risk factors associated with marital satisfaction, attitudes condoning violence and traditional sex-role ideology, life stressors, alcohol and drug use suggest the importance of accounting for such factors in treatment programs. Relational skills surrounding communication and conflict resolution, in addition to the situational factors already mentioned, present contributing factors to the extent that the couple’s pattern of communication endorses escalation or resolution of conflict and relationship power is shared or contested. Out of the broad set of predictive factors examined in relationship, receipt of physical violence from one's partner emerged as the largest predictor of expressed violence for both men and women. In addition, higher scores on attitudes toward violence and verbal aggression, and less traditional sex-role attitudes emerge as significant predictors of expressed violence for men. For women, less accepting attitudes toward violence, more traditional sex-role attitudes, feelings of romantic jealousy, higher general levels of interpersonal aggression, and verbal aggression were predictive of expressed violence.\n\nFinkel (2007) most concisely attempts to integrate and organize the significant number of IPV risk factors by categorizing the degree to which each may contribute to either strengthening the person’s violence-impelling forces or weakening their violence-inhibiting forces. The conception of both impelling and inhibiting factors provides a psychological motivational framework that cuts to the core of IPV’s primary issue of needing to control one’s partner and surrounding environment, or the need (rather than a general motivation) to regulate a partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a symbolic extension of self-control or the degree to which a person is capable of regulating his or her own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors specifically with their intimate partner.\n\nThe damaged self\n\nIn the largest study ever of its kind, Felitti established a clear relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and risks to both physical and mental health along with the development of high risk behaviors leading to disease, social, and relational problems. This study and subsequent finding have linked these data to specific disorders and behaviors that are strongly associated with IPV--Specifically the relationship between violent childhood experiences and the risk of IPV in adults. Findings also verify that witnessing of parent violence, and childhood maltreatment are the most frequently co-occuring features and perhaps greatest contributors to both the perpetration of violence against an intimate partner and the victimization by an intimate partner. The ACE study bridges empirical gaps in the origins of risk factors by linking social, emotional, and cognitive impairments resulting from adverse childhood experiences to maladaptive and risky behaviors that lead to disability, social, and relational problems. Through the mechanism of attachment processes, these adverse childhood experiences are translated from distal influences of violence exposure, maltreatment, and inculturation to more proximal dispositions associated with strong violence-impelling forces of emotionality (anger), attachment anxiety, dysthemia, borderline personality organization, and anti-socialism as well as those traits that contribute to weak violence inhibiting forces such as affect dysregulation (low self control), low empathy, psychopathy, and faulty beliefs about IPV. These traits are then drawn out by both relational and situational factors already partially enumerated erlier. This developmental sequence accounts for most if not all of the features associated with the most common forms of IPV, yet many researchers continue to measure prevalence, describe incidences, and argue ideological perspective rather than trace such linkages for more complete understanding of the underlying causes of violence in the relationship.\n\nCurrent conceptions of IPV partake of both an evil or bad model that blames individual behavior and the deviance model that sees individuals in need of corrective action. Since these models naturally fall out of a conception of IPV strictly as an issue of patriarchal control, it is natural that the potential responses share the same framework and follow a pattern of authority, control, and force directed toward punitive reaction in the form of criminal sanctions. The model of IPV that embraces psychological, developmental, and relational conceptions of violent actions rather sees individuals in violent relationships as inflicted and potentially damaged souls, performing the significations of their injury in circumstances often hostile to their aims, and ultimately in dire need of therapeutic restoration.\n\nRelational Attachment\n\nThe attachment style of adults really refers to the particular internal working model formed through the individual’s interpersonal experiences and dictating their responses to real or imagined separation from important attachment figures. They are generalized models of self and others in relationship and shape the regulation of affect in response to the configuration of that relatedness. Application of attachment theory places IPV within a systems perspective framework that recognizes the use of violent action as one of many means for regulating perceived closeness and distance between partners in the relationship and with it, the perceived capacity for self-regulation. \n\nA study by Locke revealed that situational interpersonal goals in an adult’s everyday life remain strongly linked to enduring attachment styles developed early in life and reinforced by experiences throughout their lifespan. Several studies have also positioned attachment as a useful model for understanding the frequent and incongruous co-occurrence of both violence and intimacy within the same relationship. IPV research strongly supports a two-dimensional conceptualization of dysfunctional attachment involving both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. Attachment avoidance is characterized by a pervasive discomfort with intimate closeness and a strong orientation toward self-reliant and counterdependent relationship behavior. Attachment anxiety is represented by low self-esteem, pervasive fears of partner rejection and abandonment, and dependent relationship behavior. Whereas the avoidant dimension is closely related with a negative model of others, a negative model of self is associated with anxious attachment. Because a primary aspect of the attachment system is affect regulation, control over the relationship then, may be of immense concern and importance to individuals with insecure attachment. Control over the relationship could translate into control over intimacy for these people. Obtaining and maintaining control of the relationship could therefore be instrumental in controlling anxiety and fear associated with intimacy and closeness. The premise is that anxiously attached partners will engage in overt expressions of aggression and control as a means of retaining closeness to their partner if they perceive their partner as slipping away during conflicts. On the other hand, the generally hostile interpersonal orientation and negative models of others that characterize avoidantly attached partners may cause more distress from fears of engulfment and partner assertion, leading to the use of coercion and control as a means of intimidating and controlling a partner.\n\nWhile relationships are often viewed as the result of individuals contributing their specific characteristics and traits to make up a specific dynamic, there is reason to believe that a relationship is also shaped by specific combinations of individual characteristics that form autonomous relationship phenomena beyond the traits of the individuals. The stand for example supporting that attachment security is an attribute of the relationship is based on a systemic view according to which partners provide the environment for one another, thus, mutually affecting each other. The discrepancy between preferred levels of intimacy by a partner and perceived increases or decreases of intimacy or changes in the socioemotional distance between the partners can have a profound impact on the quality of the relationship, relationship satisfaction, and can serve as an instigator of relationship aggression and violence. The mispairing of individuals with different needs for closeness and distance based on their attachment endorsements in addition to perceptions regarding changes socioemotional distance may be related to episodes of IPV. \nAttachment theory addresses the mechanism by which partners construct the reality of their relationship in that incoming information and emotional and behavioral responses are processed and filtered through the internal working model organized by the individual’s attachment perspective. Finally, the level of security each relationship forms appears to yield itself to the level of the dyad as the expression of attachment (secure, insecure, or mixed) is not found to be dependent on which partner presents a specific attachment style. It may therefore be that the bolstering or undermining of the relationship quality, the individuals’ satisfaction within it, and the level of emotional support—ergo the perception of relationship security—is a function of the dyadic structure not just the individuals within.\n\nAffect regulation: the impelling and inhibition of aggression\n\nBowlby conceptualized attachment as a facilitating factor of the human beings major self-regulatory or emotional and behavioral control systems. When functioning properly, this system regulates psychical energy in the form of anxiety such that people are able to appraise the self and the environment as a felt bodily experience. These appraisals are in turn constructed into internal working models (or complexes) that unconsciously inform the emotions and behaviors of the individual as they interact with their environment and others, and build a sense of agency through the resultant mechanism of developing self-efficacy). The developing self in the context of attachment activated processes is “conceptualized as the transformation of external into internal regulation” that emerges over time as increasingly complex forms of self-regulation and “the quality of early attachment is known to affect social relationships later in life.” Traumatic disruption of the attachment process often leads to dysregulation of impulsive and inhibiting factors of the self-regulatory system and can adversely affect mental health and the healthy progression of intimate relationships.\n\nIt is believed that the propensity for impulsive aggression, which is relatively unplanned and spontaneous but often culminates in physical violence, is associated with a low threshold for activating negative affect and with a failure to respond appropriately to the anticipated harmful consequences of behaving aggressively. Socio-psychological research underscores the relation between cognition, emotion, and aggression; negative affect such as fear and anxiety frequently precipitates, accentuates, and modulates aggressive behavior. Thus, it appears reasonable that neural circuitries that affect emotional states, also affect the predisposition towards aggressive behaviors.\n\nPeople in relationships frequently experience violent impulses toward each other without acting upon them. Violence would surely occur more frequently without such impulses being constrained by significant inhibiting factors. As such, attention should be given to factors that contribute to the transformation of these impulses into violent behavior rather than the cognitions alone. It was found for example that strong emotional reactivity generated from anxious attachment styles and conversely emotional cutoff from avoidant attachment styles were highly predictive of interpersonal conflict in relationships. These theoretical perspectives and findings are of critical importance to IPV research as they suggest direct, causal factors for relationship violence that could potentially be mitigated by preventive behaviors and pro-social support structures along with the application of well established trauma therapies as intervention models.\n\n\n\n
  • Phenomenology of IPV\n\nDesire is a lack of being. As such it is directly supported by the being of which it is a lack. This being, as we have said, is the in-itself-for-itself, consciousness become substance, substance become the cause of itself, the Man-God. Thus the being of human reality is originally not a substance but a lived relation. Nevertheless desire is not defined solely in relation to the In-itself-asself-cause. It is also relative to a brute, concrete existent which we commonly call the object of the desire. (Sartre, 2001, pp. 575-576)\n\nIt is difficult to articulating what is a “basic core of capability” whose activation requires specific catalysts as opposed to what acquired or transmitted qualities might be. Zimbardo refered to the task as trying to distinguish bad apples (dispositional traits) from bad barrels (situational factors) from bad barrel makers (systemic influences of politics, economics, cultural, religious, and legal systems).\n\nA dialogical self most often experiences relationship as an experience of continuity and discontinuity rather than one of absolute coherence. There is first a continuity between the experience of others as perceived extensions of one and the same individual self; a sense of we or mine. However, there is also a discontinuity between the same characters “as far as they represent different and perhaps opposed voices in the spatial realm of the self.” The experience of discontinuity or incoherence in relatedness can become pathologized in the psyche of the individual as insecure attachments, borderline traits, splitting, multiple identities, and dysphoria along with the perception that the partner, as an element of the extended self, is the source of these problems. Incorporation into the extended self of another can have significant psychological and physical effects and the reality for many couples is that they retain the strong emotional and historical ties to their partner even if the relationship becomes violent or abusive. The emotional tie to a violent partner emerges from a history fusing the sense of self through intimate knowledge of the other and creation of a shared reality. However, the development in the relationship of a violent system of exchange will eventually destroy the very values on which the relationship was initially built. Terminating the relationship may serve to end the existing violent interactions, but at the great expense of abandoning valued extensions of the self built over some period of time. This perhaps explains why dating relationships are more easily ended when they become violent than are longer more mature relationships.\n\nRelationship violence viewed as a lived experience rather than as described behavior or statistical anomaly present in survey observations, assumes that violence in relationship is a situated, interpersonal, emotional, and cognitive activity involving negative symbolic interactions between intimates. The self and its feelings, the persons defining emotionality is at the core of violent conduct. If emotionality is understood as self-feelings directed toward self and others, violence can be understood only from the point of view of feeling, self-reflective, violent individuals. The feeling self of the individual is not in consciousness however, but in the world of social interaction where meanings emerge from the couple’s situated dynamics, what Denzin refers to as the schismogenic process of negative symbolic interaction and relational structures of bad faith. Bad faith or the negation of ones self as Sartre put it, insures that violent acts—resultant of the couple’s mutual denial—become an enduring form of interaction in frequently violent relationships. On the other hand, the process of schismogenesis, at once temporal, historical, dialectical, and self-referencing causes normal conflict to become a dialectic of violence as emergent, spurious, and fearful spontaneous interactions bind the couple together in negative and destructive attachment rather than with the intimacy, closeness, and “we-ness” they inevitably seek to reclaim from the other partner in their use of control and force.\n\nRisk Factors\n\nNot only do risk factors culminate in violent events in the relationship, but they can also contribute to and often co-occur with issues of substance abuse, anti-social and borderline behaviors, general poor mental health, and both deviance in youth and in the most extreme cases, general violence and criminality. For the most part, none of these issues are mutually exclusive to the individual or the relationship although they are often examined in isolation throughout much of the IPV research. What researchers are most often looking for in IPV studies are common risk factors that are (a) social and psychological in origin, (b) lead to violence against a partner and to some extent violent behavior generally in some populations, (c) stem from particular developmental influences from community and family of origin (microsystems), and are (d) enacted in a particular relational context, cued by real, exaggerated, or feared rejection or threat. The complexity of psychological risk reveals domestic violence perpetration as a disorder primarily of poor impulse control, neuropsychological vulnerability, chemical dependency, and intimacy dysfunction. A situational perspective of IPV should focus on the occurrence of violence and on the surrounding circumstances and consequences of the event by identifying the predispositions and motivations establishing violent conditions. However, far more is known about the traits that individuals bring to the relationship as contributing factors than there is knowledge about relevant domains of violent interactions. Risk factors associated with marital satisfaction, attitudes condoning violence and traditional sex-role ideology, life stressors, alcohol and drug use suggest the importance of accounting for such factors in treatment programs. Relational skills surrounding communication and conflict resolution, in addition to the situational factors already mentioned, present contributing factors to the extent that the couple’s pattern of communication endorses escalation or resolution of conflict and relationship power is shared or contested. Out of the broad set of predictive factors examined in relationship, receipt of physical violence from one's partner emerged as the largest predictor of expressed violence for both men and women. In addition, higher scores on attitudes toward violence and verbal aggression, and less traditional sex-role attitudes emerge as significant predictors of expressed violence for men. For women, less accepting attitudes toward violence, more traditional sex-role attitudes, feelings of romantic jealousy, higher general levels of interpersonal aggression, and verbal aggression were predictive of expressed violence.\n\nFinkel (2007) most concisely attempts to integrate and organize the significant number of IPV risk factors by categorizing the degree to which each may contribute to either strengthening the person’s violence-impelling forces or weakening their violence-inhibiting forces. The conception of both impelling and inhibiting factors provides a psychological motivational framework that cuts to the core of IPV’s primary issue of needing to control one’s partner and surrounding environment, or the need (rather than a general motivation) to regulate a partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a symbolic extension of self-control or the degree to which a person is capable of regulating his or her own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors specifically with their intimate partner.\n\nThe damaged self\n\nIn the largest study ever of its kind, Felitti established a clear relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and risks to both physical and mental health along with the development of high risk behaviors leading to disease, social, and relational problems. This study and subsequent finding have linked these data to specific disorders and behaviors that are strongly associated with IPV--Specifically the relationship between violent childhood experiences and the risk of IPV in adults. Findings also verify that witnessing of parent violence, and childhood maltreatment are the most frequently co-occuring features and perhaps greatest contributors to both the perpetration of violence against an intimate partner and the victimization by an intimate partner. The ACE study bridges empirical gaps in the origins of risk factors by linking social, emotional, and cognitive impairments resulting from adverse childhood experiences to maladaptive and risky behaviors that lead to disability, social, and relational problems. Through the mechanism of attachment processes, these adverse childhood experiences are translated from distal influences of violence exposure, maltreatment, and inculturation to more proximal dispositions associated with strong violence-impelling forces of emotionality (anger), attachment anxiety, dysthemia, borderline personality organization, and anti-socialism as well as those traits that contribute to weak violence inhibiting forces such as affect dysregulation (low self control), low empathy, psychopathy, and faulty beliefs about IPV. These traits are then drawn out by both relational and situational factors already partially enumerated erlier. This developmental sequence accounts for most if not all of the features associated with the most common forms of IPV, yet many researchers continue to measure prevalence, describe incidences, and argue ideological perspective rather than trace such linkages for more complete understanding of the underlying causes of violence in the relationship.\n\nCurrent conceptions of IPV partake of both an evil or bad model that blames individual behavior and the deviance model that sees individuals in need of corrective action. Since these models naturally fall out of a conception of IPV strictly as an issue of patriarchal control, it is natural that the potential responses share the same framework and follow a pattern of authority, control, and force directed toward punitive reaction in the form of criminal sanctions. The model of IPV that embraces psychological, developmental, and relational conceptions of violent actions rather sees individuals in violent relationships as inflicted and potentially damaged souls, performing the significations of their injury in circumstances often hostile to their aims, and ultimately in dire need of therapeutic restoration.\n\nRelational Attachment\n\nThe attachment style of adults really refers to the particular internal working model formed through the individual’s interpersonal experiences and dictating their responses to real or imagined separation from important attachment figures. They are generalized models of self and others in relationship and shape the regulation of affect in response to the configuration of that relatedness. Application of attachment theory places IPV within a systems perspective framework that recognizes the use of violent action as one of many means for regulating perceived closeness and distance between partners in the relationship and with it, the perceived capacity for self-regulation. \n\nA study by Locke revealed that situational interpersonal goals in an adult’s everyday life remain strongly linked to enduring attachment styles developed early in life and reinforced by experiences throughout their lifespan. Several studies have also positioned attachment as a useful model for understanding the frequent and incongruous co-occurrence of both violence and intimacy within the same relationship. IPV research strongly supports a two-dimensional conceptualization of dysfunctional attachment involving both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. Attachment avoidance is characterized by a pervasive discomfort with intimate closeness and a strong orientation toward self-reliant and counterdependent relationship behavior. Attachment anxiety is represented by low self-esteem, pervasive fears of partner rejection and abandonment, and dependent relationship behavior. Whereas the avoidant dimension is closely related with a negative model of others, a negative model of self is associated with anxious attachment. Because a primary aspect of the attachment system is affect regulation, control over the relationship then, may be of immense concern and importance to individuals with insecure attachment. Control over the relationship could translate into control over intimacy for these people. Obtaining and maintaining control of the relationship could therefore be instrumental in controlling anxiety and fear associated with intimacy and closeness. The premise is that anxiously attached partners will engage in overt expressions of aggression and control as a means of retaining closeness to their partner if they perceive their partner as slipping away during conflicts. On the other hand, the generally hostile interpersonal orientation and negative models of others that characterize avoidantly attached partners may cause more distress from fears of engulfment and partner assertion, leading to the use of coercion and control as a means of intimidating and controlling a partner.\n\nWhile relationships are often viewed as the result of individuals contributing their specific characteristics and traits to make up a specific dynamic, there is reason to believe that a relationship is also shaped by specific combinations of individual characteristics that form autonomous relationship phenomena beyond the traits of the individuals. The stand for example supporting that attachment security is an attribute of the relationship is based on a systemic view according to which partners provide the environment for one another, thus, mutually affecting each other. The discrepancy between preferred levels of intimacy by a partner and perceived increases or decreases of intimacy or changes in the socioemotional distance between the partners can have a profound impact on the quality of the relationship, relationship satisfaction, and can serve as an instigator of relationship aggression and violence. The mispairing of individuals with different needs for closeness and distance based on their attachment endorsements in addition to perceptions regarding changes socioemotional distance may be related to episodes of IPV. \nAttachment theory addresses the mechanism by which partners construct the reality of their relationship in that incoming information and emotional and behavioral responses are processed and filtered through the internal working model organized by the individual’s attachment perspective. Finally, the level of security each relationship forms appears to yield itself to the level of the dyad as the expression of attachment (secure, insecure, or mixed) is not found to be dependent on which partner presents a specific attachment style. It may therefore be that the bolstering or undermining of the relationship quality, the individuals’ satisfaction within it, and the level of emotional support—ergo the perception of relationship security—is a function of the dyadic structure not just the individuals within.\n\nAffect regulation: the impelling and inhibition of aggression\n\nBowlby conceptualized attachment as a facilitating factor of the human beings major self-regulatory or emotional and behavioral control systems. When functioning properly, this system regulates psychical energy in the form of anxiety such that people are able to appraise the self and the environment as a felt bodily experience. These appraisals are in turn constructed into internal working models (or complexes) that unconsciously inform the emotions and behaviors of the individual as they interact with their environment and others, and build a sense of agency through the resultant mechanism of developing self-efficacy). The developing self in the context of attachment activated processes is “conceptualized as the transformation of external into internal regulation” that emerges over time as increasingly complex forms of self-regulation and “the quality of early attachment is known to affect social relationships later in life.” Traumatic disruption of the attachment process often leads to dysregulation of impulsive and inhibiting factors of the self-regulatory system and can adversely affect mental health and the healthy progression of intimate relationships.\n\nIt is believed that the propensity for impulsive aggression, which is relatively unplanned and spontaneous but often culminates in physical violence, is associated with a low threshold for activating negative affect and with a failure to respond appropriately to the anticipated harmful consequences of behaving aggressively. Socio-psychological research underscores the relation between cognition, emotion, and aggression; negative affect such as fear and anxiety frequently precipitates, accentuates, and modulates aggressive behavior. Thus, it appears reasonable that neural circuitries that affect emotional states, also affect the predisposition towards aggressive behaviors.\n\nPeople in relationships frequently experience violent impulses toward each other without acting upon them. Violence would surely occur more frequently without such impulses being constrained by significant inhibiting factors. As such, attention should be given to factors that contribute to the transformation of these impulses into violent behavior rather than the cognitions alone. It was found for example that strong emotional reactivity generated from anxious attachment styles and conversely emotional cutoff from avoidant attachment styles were highly predictive of interpersonal conflict in relationships. These theoretical perspectives and findings are of critical importance to IPV research as they suggest direct, causal factors for relationship violence that could potentially be mitigated by preventive behaviors and pro-social support structures along with the application of well established trauma therapies as intervention models.\n\n\n\n
  • Phenomenology of IPV\n\nDesire is a lack of being. As such it is directly supported by the being of which it is a lack. This being, as we have said, is the in-itself-for-itself, consciousness become substance, substance become the cause of itself, the Man-God. Thus the being of human reality is originally not a substance but a lived relation. Nevertheless desire is not defined solely in relation to the In-itself-asself-cause. It is also relative to a brute, concrete existent which we commonly call the object of the desire. (Sartre, 2001, pp. 575-576)\n\nIt is difficult to articulating what is a “basic core of capability” whose activation requires specific catalysts as opposed to what acquired or transmitted qualities might be. Zimbardo refered to the task as trying to distinguish bad apples (dispositional traits) from bad barrels (situational factors) from bad barrel makers (systemic influences of politics, economics, cultural, religious, and legal systems).\n\nA dialogical self most often experiences relationship as an experience of continuity and discontinuity rather than one of absolute coherence. There is first a continuity between the experience of others as perceived extensions of one and the same individual self; a sense of we or mine. However, there is also a discontinuity between the same characters “as far as they represent different and perhaps opposed voices in the spatial realm of the self.” The experience of discontinuity or incoherence in relatedness can become pathologized in the psyche of the individual as insecure attachments, borderline traits, splitting, multiple identities, and dysphoria along with the perception that the partner, as an element of the extended self, is the source of these problems. Incorporation into the extended self of another can have significant psychological and physical effects and the reality for many couples is that they retain the strong emotional and historical ties to their partner even if the relationship becomes violent or abusive. The emotional tie to a violent partner emerges from a history fusing the sense of self through intimate knowledge of the other and creation of a shared reality. However, the development in the relationship of a violent system of exchange will eventually destroy the very values on which the relationship was initially built. Terminating the relationship may serve to end the existing violent interactions, but at the great expense of abandoning valued extensions of the self built over some period of time. This perhaps explains why dating relationships are more easily ended when they become violent than are longer more mature relationships.\n\nRelationship violence viewed as a lived experience rather than as described behavior or statistical anomaly present in survey observations, assumes that violence in relationship is a situated, interpersonal, emotional, and cognitive activity involving negative symbolic interactions between intimates. The self and its feelings, the persons defining emotionality is at the core of violent conduct. If emotionality is understood as self-feelings directed toward self and others, violence can be understood only from the point of view of feeling, self-reflective, violent individuals. The feeling self of the individual is not in consciousness however, but in the world of social interaction where meanings emerge from the couple’s situated dynamics, what Denzin refers to as the schismogenic process of negative symbolic interaction and relational structures of bad faith. Bad faith or the negation of ones self as Sartre put it, insures that violent acts—resultant of the couple’s mutual denial—become an enduring form of interaction in frequently violent relationships. On the other hand, the process of schismogenesis, at once temporal, historical, dialectical, and self-referencing causes normal conflict to become a dialectic of violence as emergent, spurious, and fearful spontaneous interactions bind the couple together in negative and destructive attachment rather than with the intimacy, closeness, and “we-ness” they inevitably seek to reclaim from the other partner in their use of control and force.\n\nRisk Factors\n\nNot only do risk factors culminate in violent events in the relationship, but they can also contribute to and often co-occur with issues of substance abuse, anti-social and borderline behaviors, general poor mental health, and both deviance in youth and in the most extreme cases, general violence and criminality. For the most part, none of these issues are mutually exclusive to the individual or the relationship although they are often examined in isolation throughout much of the IPV research. What researchers are most often looking for in IPV studies are common risk factors that are (a) social and psychological in origin, (b) lead to violence against a partner and to some extent violent behavior generally in some populations, (c) stem from particular developmental influences from community and family of origin (microsystems), and are (d) enacted in a particular relational context, cued by real, exaggerated, or feared rejection or threat. The complexity of psychological risk reveals domestic violence perpetration as a disorder primarily of poor impulse control, neuropsychological vulnerability, chemical dependency, and intimacy dysfunction. A situational perspective of IPV should focus on the occurrence of violence and on the surrounding circumstances and consequences of the event by identifying the predispositions and motivations establishing violent conditions. However, far more is known about the traits that individuals bring to the relationship as contributing factors than there is knowledge about relevant domains of violent interactions. Risk factors associated with marital satisfaction, attitudes condoning violence and traditional sex-role ideology, life stressors, alcohol and drug use suggest the importance of accounting for such factors in treatment programs. Relational skills surrounding communication and conflict resolution, in addition to the situational factors already mentioned, present contributing factors to the extent that the couple’s pattern of communication endorses escalation or resolution of conflict and relationship power is shared or contested. Out of the broad set of predictive factors examined in relationship, receipt of physical violence from one's partner emerged as the largest predictor of expressed violence for both men and women. In addition, higher scores on attitudes toward violence and verbal aggression, and less traditional sex-role attitudes emerge as significant predictors of expressed violence for men. For women, less accepting attitudes toward violence, more traditional sex-role attitudes, feelings of romantic jealousy, higher general levels of interpersonal aggression, and verbal aggression were predictive of expressed violence.\n\nFinkel (2007) most concisely attempts to integrate and organize the significant number of IPV risk factors by categorizing the degree to which each may contribute to either strengthening the person’s violence-impelling forces or weakening their violence-inhibiting forces. The conception of both impelling and inhibiting factors provides a psychological motivational framework that cuts to the core of IPV’s primary issue of needing to control one’s partner and surrounding environment, or the need (rather than a general motivation) to regulate a partner’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a symbolic extension of self-control or the degree to which a person is capable of regulating his or her own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors specifically with their intimate partner.\n\nThe damaged self\n\nIn the largest study ever of its kind, Felitti established a clear relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and risks to both physical and mental health along with the development of high risk behaviors leading to disease, social, and relational problems. This study and subsequent finding have linked these data to specific disorders and behaviors that are strongly associated with IPV--Specifically the relationship between violent childhood experiences and the risk of IPV in adults. Findings also verify that witnessing of parent violence, and childhood maltreatment are the most frequently co-occuring features and perhaps greatest contributors to both the perpetration of violence against an intimate partner and the victimization by an intimate partner. The ACE study bridges empirical gaps in the origins of risk factors by linking social, emotional, and cognitive impairments resulting from adverse childhood experiences to maladaptive and risky behaviors that lead to disability, social, and relational problems. Through the mechanism of attachment processes, these adverse childhood experiences are translated from distal influences of violence exposure, maltreatment, and inculturation to more proximal dispositions associated with strong violence-impelling forces of emotionality (anger), attachment anxiety, dysthemia, borderline personality organization, and anti-socialism as well as those traits that contribute to weak violence inhibiting forces such as affect dysregulation (low self control), low empathy, psychopathy, and faulty beliefs about IPV. These traits are then drawn out by both relational and situational factors already partially enumerated erlier. This developmental sequence accounts for most if not all of the features associated with the most common forms of IPV, yet many researchers continue to measure prevalence, describe incidences, and argue ideological perspective rather than trace such linkages for more complete understanding of the underlying causes of violence in the relationship.\n\nCurrent conceptions of IPV partake of both an evil or bad model that blames individual behavior and the deviance model that sees individuals in need of corrective action. Since these models naturally fall out of a conception of IPV strictly as an issue of patriarchal control, it is natural that the potential responses share the same framework and follow a pattern of authority, control, and force directed toward punitive reaction in the form of criminal sanctions. The model of IPV that embraces psychological, developmental, and relational conceptions of violent actions rather sees individuals in violent relationships as inflicted and potentially damaged souls, performing the significations of their injury in circumstances often hostile to their aims, and ultimately in dire need of therapeutic restoration.\n\nRelational Attachment\n\nThe attachment style of adults really refers to the particular internal working model formed through the individual’s interpersonal experiences and dictating their responses to real or imagined separation from important attachment figures. They are generalized models of self and others in relationship and shape the regulation of affect in response to the configuration of that relatedness. Application of attachment theory places IPV within a systems perspective framework that recognizes the use of violent action as one of many means for regulating perceived closeness and distance between partners in the relationship and with it, the perceived capacity for self-regulation. \n\nA study by Locke revealed that situational interpersonal goals in an adult’s everyday life remain strongly linked to enduring attachment styles developed early in life and reinforced by experiences throughout their lifespan. Several studies have also positioned attachment as a useful model for understanding the frequent and incongruous co-occurrence of both violence and intimacy within the same relationship. IPV research strongly supports a two-dimensional conceptualization of dysfunctional attachment involving both attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance. Attachment avoidance is characterized by a pervasive discomfort with intimate closeness and a strong orientation toward self-reliant and counterdependent relationship behavior. Attachment anxiety is represented by low self-esteem, pervasive fears of partner rejection and abandonment, and dependent relationship behavior. Whereas the avoidant dimension is closely related with a negative model of others, a negative model of self is associated with anxious attachment. Because a primary aspect of the attachment system is affect regulation, control over the relationship then, may be of immense concern and importance to individuals with insecure attachment. Control over the relationship could translate into control over intimacy for these people. Obtaining and maintaining control of the relationship could therefore be instrumental in controlling anxiety and fear associated with intimacy and closeness. The premise is that anxiously attached partners will engage in overt expressions of aggression and control as a means of retaining closeness to their partner if they perceive their partner as slipping away during conflicts. On the other hand, the generally hostile interpersonal orientation and negative models of others that characterize avoidantly attached partners may cause more distress from fears of engulfment and partner assertion, leading to the use of coercion and control as a means of intimidating and controlling a partner.\n\nWhile relationships are often viewed as the result of individuals contributing their specific characteristics and traits to make up a specific dynamic, there is reason to believe that a relationship is also shaped by specific combinations of individual characteristics that form autonomous relationship phenomena beyond the traits of the individuals. The stand for example supporting that attachment security is an attribute of the relationship is based on a systemic view according to which partners provide the environment for one another, thus, mutually affecting each other. The discrepancy between preferred levels of intimacy by a partner and perceived increases or decreases of intimacy or changes in the socioemotional distance between the partners can have a profound impact on the quality of the relationship, relationship satisfaction, and can serve as an instigator of relationship aggression and violence. The mispairing of individuals with different needs for closeness and distance based on their attachment endorsements in addition to perceptions regarding changes socioemotional distance may be related to episodes of IPV. \nAttachment theory addresses the mechanism by which partners construct the reality of their relationship in that incoming information and emotional and behavioral responses are processed and filtered through the internal working model organized by the individual’s attachment perspective. Finally, the level of security each relationship forms appears to yield itself to the level of the dyad as the expression of attachment (secure, insecure, or mixed) is not found to be dependent on which partner presents a specific attachment style. It may therefore be that the bolstering or undermining of the relationship quality, the individuals’ satisfaction within it, and the level of emotional support—ergo the perception of relationship security—is a function of the dyadic structure not just the individuals within.\n\nAffect regulation: the impelling and inhibition of aggression\n\nBowlby conceptualized attachment as a facilitating factor of the human beings major self-regulatory or emotional and behavioral control systems. When functioning properly, this system regulates psychical energy in the form of anxiety such that people are able to appraise the self and the environment as a felt bodily experience. These appraisals are in turn constructed into internal working models (or complexes) that unconsciously inform the emotions and behaviors of the individual as they interact with their environment and others, and build a sense of agency through the resultant mechanism of developing self-efficacy). The developing self in the context of attachment activated processes is “conceptualized as the transformation of external into internal regulation” that emerges over time as increasingly complex forms of self-regulation and “the quality of early attachment is known to affect social relationships later in life.” Traumatic disruption of the attachment process often leads to dysregulation of impulsive and inhibiting factors of the self-regulatory system and can adversely affect mental health and the healthy progression of intimate relationships.\n\nIt is believed that the propensity for impulsive aggression, which is relatively unplanned and spontaneous but often culminates in physical violence, is associated with a low threshold for activating negative affect and with a failure to respond appropriately to the anticipated harmful consequences of behaving aggressively. Socio-psychological research underscores the relation between cognition, emotion, and aggression; negative affect such as fear and anxiety frequently precipitates, accentuates, and modulates aggressive behavior. Thus, it appears reasonable that neural circuitries that affect emotional states, also affect the predisposition towards aggressive behaviors.\n\nPeople in relationships frequently experience violent impulses toward each other without acting upon them. Violence would surely occur more frequently without such impulses being constrained by significant inhibiting factors. As such, attention should be given to factors that contribute to the transformation of these impulses into violent behavior rather than the cognitions alone. It was found for example that strong emotional reactivity generated from anxious attachment styles and conversely emotional cutoff from avoidant attachment styles were highly predictive of interpersonal conflict in relationships. These theoretical perspectives and findings are of critical importance to IPV research as they suggest direct, causal factors for relationship violence that could potentially be mitigated by preventive behaviors and pro-social support structures along with the application of well established trauma therapies as intervention models.\n\n\n\n
  • Violence in a fundamental sense can be conceptualized as a dysfunction of the human need for relatedness. In one respect, violence directs aggression by aiming for the target that is the other subject, the object of desire or impediment to the same. It is the other that represents the internal need, upon whom is projected desire, manifest in mass and matter made substantial and attainable by the aggressor. The importance one may place upon the force behind the drive constructing a covalence with its aim becomes unmistakable in moments when desire concretizes in enactments intended to posses, consume, control, or enslave its object. In another respect, it seems unlikely that violence could be ideated at all without the presence of another and the intervening relatedness, strong or weak, real or imagined that exists between the subjects. \n\nIntersubjective relatedness reveals the sense of interpersonal communion between subjects who are attuned to one another in their emotional states and in their respective expressions. Habermas viewed intersubjectivity as a linguistic field within which shared understanding and meaning rely on communicative competence from the performers. Another meaning of intersubjectivity that relates back to the classic concept of Einfühlung (empathy) is the capacity for inferences to be established concerning the intentions, beliefs and feelings of others, involving simulation or the capacity to ‘read’ other subjects’ mental states and processes. In psychological terms, intersubjectivity occurs when experience is lived simultaneously by multiple subjects. This interpersonal aspect of intersubjectivity means that attention is given to the symbolic field of interactions that are the basis of what comes to be constituted as shared meaning, as consciousness, and as self. \n\nThe unfolding framework of intersubjectivity can be traced to traditional psychoanalytic models associated with early affect development as well as concepts that enable the development and maintenance of functional relatedness. While much of the research in these fields is directed toward the origination and early development of the person in infancy and childhood, there may be sufficient evidence that psychological patterns set in motion early on remain relatively stable into adulthood and can still be significantly fortified by current relationships—possibly to the detriment of the parties in the case of destructive patterns of behavior. As such, intersubjective models may play a more significant role in relational dysfunction than has been accounted for by current research methods, which largely ignore intersubjective methods as an approach for research, assessment, or treatment.\n\nNot articulating a continuum of developmental processes from childhood and adolescence into human adulthood and beyond that takes into account the ecological, interactional, and intersubjective situated nature of the individual perpetuates a conception of adults as psychologically fixed and stagnant. This is particularly true in research pertaining to relationship violence where a great deal of focus is placed on the offender’s present “defective” cognitions rather than understanding how a lack of resilience within the individuals life and relationship might deter the ill effects of various adverse life conditions as well as those that exacerbate [them].\n \nMany researchers are engaged in studies that connect the dots between various forms of adversity longitudinally throughout life experienced in myriad intersubjective contexts and resulting in any number of outcomes both favorable and detrimental. These outcomes not only manifest both physically and psychologically in the individual, but also in the intersubjective field of the relational dyad as well as intergenerationally in subsequent progeny.\n\nRelationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System\n\nIn addition to being an experience of intersubjectivity, relationship can also be conceptualized as a dynamic system encompassing tensions, conflicts, punctuated equilibriums, change, and even evolutions. Within any dynamic system, meaning is constantly in the making and often the actions and processes unfolding that which is “becoming” is more fundamental to the energetics than the product of its being. “Meaning resides in the interface,” not in the subjects themselves writes Linell, between the historically and culturally embedded subject and the ecology in which they are situated. Rosch suggested that only by seeing the cognitive process as embodied, that is inseparable from physical, linguistic, and historically situated being, can individuals comprehend meaning. Meaning emerges as a result of ongoing interpretations from human capacities of understanding that include established patterns of embodied experience along with pre-conceptual structures of sensibility that regulate the mode of perception or orientation of interaction with others. Reflection on these pre-conceptual structures as an abstract, disembodied activity possesses minor capacity to impact a particular life path. Reflection that takes into account the embodied experience is not just reflection on experience but is a form of performative experience itself that acts to disrupt habitual patterns of thought and preconceptions defining the current life space.\n\nThese patterns of perception and action are firmly fixed within the nervous system through the exploitation of topological and topographic organization and form into “neural maps” that, while exhibiting high levels of plasticity, can produce rigid responses in the individual’s interactions with external factors. The degree of plasticity of cognitive structures is the subject of much recent study and promises to provide valuable information about how enactions become habituated and, more importantly, how they can be disrupted and revised when they turn into morbid features of individuation or relationship. Once again, the system being evaluated here is the intimate relationship dyad in which habitual patterns are either reinforced or disrupted—sometimes violently—as the partners enact their patterns of embodied cognitions contextually and interactionally within their relationship and in the broader ecological system of which they are a part. \n\nAs might be expected, the dynamic systems view of development possesses several conceptual challenges for researchers and practitioners when approaching specific issues such as relationship aggression and violence, the first being multiplicity (or multicausality) of origins, which conceives coherence of Being as that which is generated solely in the relationships between the elements and the constraints and opportunities of the environment. Typical research and intervention practices related to relational violence start with the premise of individual cause and responsibility. In the dynamic and interactional systems view, no single element, including the individual, is privileged or given causal priority.\n\nThe second challenge for conceptualizing is that of timescale. Change occurs developmentally over many time periods ranging from weeks for learning processes to years for developmental processes (not to mention millennia when referencing evolutionary scales). Traditional psychological practices differentiate processes associated with each of these time scales as distinct phenomenon. In the domain of relationship violence, the discreet, individual action or “incident” is the predominant time scale for evaluation. However, time is unified and coherent in all its forms and scales just as are the collaborating elements of the dynamic system for any “organism” (and its descendants).\n\nSome studies found that nearly half of physically violent couples in a community sample desisted violent and physically aggressive behavior while a small number (5-12%) increased such activity. While further analysis would be needed to make connections between changes in aggressive behavior and the specific context shifts that facilitate or hinder improvement, these types of studies demonstrate the possibility of self-regulating functions occurring naturally within the system of the relationship dyad over time. The question for practitioners and researchers to pose then is how are those self-regulating processes being reinforced or thwarted by their theories and activities?\n\nEcological-Transactional Systems\n\nDynamic theories that embrace a bio-ecological understanding of human development hold that development of the person is reflective of the influences of several environmental systems. Microsystems pose the system in which the most direct interactions with other social agents such as family, peers, and neighbors take place. It is within this intimate system that the individual may exercise the greatest degree of self-agency in the construction of the setting and co-creation of their reality. The microsystem is the most frequently studied system in relationship violence research and for which the most interventions are prescribed. Intimate partner violence (IPV) researchers also frequently reference macrosystems of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status among other broad distal, yet all encompassing influences. Less researched and understood meso-, exo-, and chronosystems that respectively refer to the intersubjective connections between contexts, the influence of contexts outside the individual’s microsystem, and “ongoing changes and cumulative effects that occur over time as persons and their multiple environments interact” over their lifespan and within their socio-historical circumstances.\n\nIt is the conditions then enveloping violent behavior rather than the specific risk factors or propensities of the individual that precipitate a violent event. As such, the researcher should take a primarily situated perspective in their account of motivations, actions, and outcomes associated with such events.\n\nDialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity\n\nOne method for penetrating the complex and often opaque constructed worlds emergent from dynamic, intersubjective relational systems is through the analysis of talk or dialogism. This method attempts to get close to processes through which intersubjectivity is produced and reproduced by observing social interactions, and particularly what is said in interactions. Linell (2003) contrasted monologism that views knowledge as objectively independent of the individual to dialogism that “looks upon knowledge as necessarily constructed, negotiated, and (re)contextualised (a) in situ and in socio-cultural traditions, and (b) in dialogue with others”. From this perspective, what researchers observe within the context of relationship are dialogical phenomenon that are (a) transcendent of the current situation, (b) relationally dependent, and (c) reflective of the phenomenon’s historical and cultural traditions.\n\nThis sense of shared meaning and understanding composing intersubjective space causes people to empirically manifest as being permeated by social discourses and significant others. The shared space also provides the matrix constituting the individual’s sense of identity, composed of constituent actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions, derived from the intersubjective field. Gallese (2009) describes the automatic and unconscious mechanism mediating this emergence of the individual from the soup of the intersubjective space as embodied simulation through which we achieve “our capacity to share the meaning of actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions with others, thus grounding our identification with and connectedness to others”. \n\nAll together, mechanisms of representation and embodied simulation provide a means for humans to not only perceive what others are feeling at a largely unconscious level, dependent upon a sophisticated interplay between participant perceptions, but also provides clues as to what are mutual or shared perceptions. This important relational process has been further delineated in a study that showed (a) an individual’s ability to connect empathetically with others relies on an ability for shared perception, (b) these are embodied as sympathetic resonances in the individual’s affective system and displayed as shared representations, and (c) dysfunction or disruption of the coherence in this system can potentially create discord in the individual and in his or her relatedness with others.\n\nThe Isolated Individual\n\nCoelho and Figueiredo (2003) add, \nConsciousness always comes afterwards, after interaction with significant others and with the generalized other, after that of the world of shared meanings and social roles articulated in the form of a system and which regulate the actions of a society. It is on the basis of this generalized other that an identity of the ‘I’ can be constructed and stabilized.\n\nThe implication here is that consciousness is not an individual, solitary, nor even unique consciousness, but a consciousness continually aware of and open to revision from the world or what Merleau-Ponty called the experiences of shared reality, searches for compounds and unions in which one cannot be thought without the other. System-based ideas of self and interactive regulation, emphasize the primacy of process over static notions of structure. They locate psychological organization as the property of the mutually organized system of relationship rather than belonging to the individual alone. Objectivist traditions that “characterize perceptions and cognitions by their content, free from context and set to a ‘discreet state’ allows for the construction of defects of the Self within the individual person based on what quality is perceived as missing in the experience the researcher or practitioner seeks to understand rather than what is actually present.\n \nThe nature of the dyadic system however is that all behavior is simultaneously unfolding in the individual while at the same time modifying and being modified by the changing behavior of the partner. \n\nAlterity\n\nIt is possible that everyday encounters with others become immediately meaningful if they connect suitably with the situated lived experience of the observer. Such encounters are already known, already available for use and control. They fatten the ego with only what is easily digestible with a familiar other; a figure who is close to or even seemingly one with the subject already. The tendency is to seek what already fits with the quotidian of the familiar in lived experience. Experiences of alterity are not easily assimilated into the boundaries of the known as they are by nature, what has been excluded, unreflected, and un-lived for the subject. They are encounters with a distant or exotic other, with whom one feels very different in its alterity, becoming an often “traumatic irruption and event . . . which will always in principle exceed one’s capacity to receive, accept and understand, and which, however, as an expression of suffering, demands some response”. It is in such an encounter, in which the Other precedes the person and traumatizes them, that a felt transformation can take place. Then, appended to that initial encounter, many other processes can be affixed, thus constituting and transforming the individual Self. The resilence of \n\nEmergence of Relationship Violence\n\nThere is a basic premise harkening back to the age of Aristotle, that human beings are by nature relational. The implication is “that our psychological life cannot be the life of an isolated mind; it must originate, grow, and change within the intersubjective contexts in which we find ourselves”. Psychologies that make distinctions between singular and multiple subjective fields fail to recognize the way in which relatedness plays a constitutive and developmental role in the making of all experience by placing the individual intrapsychic world at the center of experience rather than as a “subsystem within the more encompassing relational and intersubjective suprasystem”. Such a perspective of ecological complexity encircling the Self recognizes that different configurations of relational and intrapsychic context give rise to varied configurations of the Self that, while possessing ontological continuity and unity, may experience discontinuity and multiplicity of Self.\n\nOrange defined this emergent process of intersubjectivity as “irreducibly relational”. She differentiated it from interpersonal perspectives in that its interest is in the ways that experience becomes defined and modified through engagement with others and the way that meaning emerges as a co-creation of the subjective participants. Interpersonalism on the other hand looks at “who is doing what to whom, with gambits and controls” by placing individuals in a dyad consisting of a defined subject and its object. This focus on individual action rather than the context from which such action emerges is the hallmark of IPV research and intervention to date. As such, any move to contextualize or place pathology other than solely within the individual is rejected as diverting blame away from the aggressor’s own desire for control, the manifestation of repetitive enactments of the past, or simply a denial of personal responsibility. From this perspective, little can be done to intervene in an individual’s trajectory toward perpetration as pathology will always reside in the individual and be an individualized response to any particular environment. However, if indeed “all selfhood--including enduring patterns of personality and pathology—develops and is maintained within, and as a function of, the interplay between subjectivities” as Orange theorized (p. 6), then there is an opportunity of affecting change from a societal perspective by valuing and promoting specific qualities of intersubjective acts such as empathy or reflectivity in the earliest stages of development.\n\nCairns et al. looked at how conflictual social interchanges often escalate to aggressive acts and proposed that researchers looking for explanations shift their attention beyond the individual and their action to the relational dyad and the surrounding social network in which that dyad functions to construct an interactional model of personality and behavior. They posited that clear understanding of interactional concepts of social relationship that include escalation, reciprocity, synchrony, bidirectionality, and interpersonal constraint is very much a part of understanding developmental patterns ranging from aggression to attachment and dependency to altruism. They also emphasized the importance of biological and developmental variation in influencing individual differences in behavior.\n\nCairns et al. found that aggressive behaviors are brought about by coupling the internal maturational state of the individual and the dynamic principles of the social interchange such that the more “vigorous counter-response of the partner, the more likely the attack by the subject” (p. 231). Aggressive responses are further influenced by the relative novelty of the situation or the subject’s familiarity with the context of the conflict. In other words, long standing conflicts eliciting recurring aggression may lead to pre-emptive actions at the slightest emergence of cues seemingly bypassing all prelude of apparent escalation. As such, it is the field generated by varied and unique configurations of relationship out of which emerges a particular quality of relatedness.\n\nMutual antagonism creates high stakes for engaging and perpetuating a particular behavior or course of action. Aggression tends to escalate when there is a high degree of commitment to maintaining conflict and an increased opposition due to this significant investment. In such c\\cases there is a tendency for such relationally destructive conflicts to expand and escalate detached from or regardless of any original conscious purpose. These schisms continue to flourish after any initial cause becomes irrelevant or forgotten. Discord then can be conceived as underpinning the relationship’s intersubjective field upon which a violent relationship is constructed. \n
  • Violence in a fundamental sense can be conceptualized as a dysfunction of the human need for relatedness. In one respect, violence directs aggression by aiming for the target that is the other subject, the object of desire or impediment to the same. It is the other that represents the internal need, upon whom is projected desire, manifest in mass and matter made substantial and attainable by the aggressor. The importance one may place upon the force behind the drive constructing a covalence with its aim becomes unmistakable in moments when desire concretizes in enactments intended to posses, consume, control, or enslave its object. In another respect, it seems unlikely that violence could be ideated at all without the presence of another and the intervening relatedness, strong or weak, real or imagined that exists between the subjects. \n\nIntersubjective relatedness reveals the sense of interpersonal communion between subjects who are attuned to one another in their emotional states and in their respective expressions. Habermas viewed intersubjectivity as a linguistic field within which shared understanding and meaning rely on communicative competence from the performers. Another meaning of intersubjectivity that relates back to the classic concept of Einfühlung (empathy) is the capacity for inferences to be established concerning the intentions, beliefs and feelings of others, involving simulation or the capacity to ‘read’ other subjects’ mental states and processes. In psychological terms, intersubjectivity occurs when experience is lived simultaneously by multiple subjects. This interpersonal aspect of intersubjectivity means that attention is given to the symbolic field of interactions that are the basis of what comes to be constituted as shared meaning, as consciousness, and as self. \n\nThe unfolding framework of intersubjectivity can be traced to traditional psychoanalytic models associated with early affect development as well as concepts that enable the development and maintenance of functional relatedness. While much of the research in these fields is directed toward the origination and early development of the person in infancy and childhood, there may be sufficient evidence that psychological patterns set in motion early on remain relatively stable into adulthood and can still be significantly fortified by current relationships—possibly to the detriment of the parties in the case of destructive patterns of behavior. As such, intersubjective models may play a more significant role in relational dysfunction than has been accounted for by current research methods, which largely ignore intersubjective methods as an approach for research, assessment, or treatment.\n\nNot articulating a continuum of developmental processes from childhood and adolescence into human adulthood and beyond that takes into account the ecological, interactional, and intersubjective situated nature of the individual perpetuates a conception of adults as psychologically fixed and stagnant. This is particularly true in research pertaining to relationship violence where a great deal of focus is placed on the offender’s present “defective” cognitions rather than understanding how a lack of resilience within the individuals life and relationship might deter the ill effects of various adverse life conditions as well as those that exacerbate [them].\n \nMany researchers are engaged in studies that connect the dots between various forms of adversity longitudinally throughout life experienced in myriad intersubjective contexts and resulting in any number of outcomes both favorable and detrimental. These outcomes not only manifest both physically and psychologically in the individual, but also in the intersubjective field of the relational dyad as well as intergenerationally in subsequent progeny.\n\nRelationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System\n\nIn addition to being an experience of intersubjectivity, relationship can also be conceptualized as a dynamic system encompassing tensions, conflicts, punctuated equilibriums, change, and even evolutions. Within any dynamic system, meaning is constantly in the making and often the actions and processes unfolding that which is “becoming” is more fundamental to the energetics than the product of its being. “Meaning resides in the interface,” not in the subjects themselves writes Linell, between the historically and culturally embedded subject and the ecology in which they are situated. Rosch suggested that only by seeing the cognitive process as embodied, that is inseparable from physical, linguistic, and historically situated being, can individuals comprehend meaning. Meaning emerges as a result of ongoing interpretations from human capacities of understanding that include established patterns of embodied experience along with pre-conceptual structures of sensibility that regulate the mode of perception or orientation of interaction with others. Reflection on these pre-conceptual structures as an abstract, disembodied activity possesses minor capacity to impact a particular life path. Reflection that takes into account the embodied experience is not just reflection on experience but is a form of performative experience itself that acts to disrupt habitual patterns of thought and preconceptions defining the current life space.\n\nThese patterns of perception and action are firmly fixed within the nervous system through the exploitation of topological and topographic organization and form into “neural maps” that, while exhibiting high levels of plasticity, can produce rigid responses in the individual’s interactions with external factors. The degree of plasticity of cognitive structures is the subject of much recent study and promises to provide valuable information about how enactions become habituated and, more importantly, how they can be disrupted and revised when they turn into morbid features of individuation or relationship. Once again, the system being evaluated here is the intimate relationship dyad in which habitual patterns are either reinforced or disrupted—sometimes violently—as the partners enact their patterns of embodied cognitions contextually and interactionally within their relationship and in the broader ecological system of which they are a part. \n\nAs might be expected, the dynamic systems view of development possesses several conceptual challenges for researchers and practitioners when approaching specific issues such as relationship aggression and violence, the first being multiplicity (or multicausality) of origins, which conceives coherence of Being as that which is generated solely in the relationships between the elements and the constraints and opportunities of the environment. Typical research and intervention practices related to relational violence start with the premise of individual cause and responsibility. In the dynamic and interactional systems view, no single element, including the individual, is privileged or given causal priority.\n\nThe second challenge for conceptualizing is that of timescale. Change occurs developmentally over many time periods ranging from weeks for learning processes to years for developmental processes (not to mention millennia when referencing evolutionary scales). Traditional psychological practices differentiate processes associated with each of these time scales as distinct phenomenon. In the domain of relationship violence, the discreet, individual action or “incident” is the predominant time scale for evaluation. However, time is unified and coherent in all its forms and scales just as are the collaborating elements of the dynamic system for any “organism” (and its descendants).\n\nSome studies found that nearly half of physically violent couples in a community sample desisted violent and physically aggressive behavior while a small number (5-12%) increased such activity. While further analysis would be needed to make connections between changes in aggressive behavior and the specific context shifts that facilitate or hinder improvement, these types of studies demonstrate the possibility of self-regulating functions occurring naturally within the system of the relationship dyad over time. The question for practitioners and researchers to pose then is how are those self-regulating processes being reinforced or thwarted by their theories and activities?\n\nEcological-Transactional Systems\n\nDynamic theories that embrace a bio-ecological understanding of human development hold that development of the person is reflective of the influences of several environmental systems. Microsystems pose the system in which the most direct interactions with other social agents such as family, peers, and neighbors take place. It is within this intimate system that the individual may exercise the greatest degree of self-agency in the construction of the setting and co-creation of their reality. The microsystem is the most frequently studied system in relationship violence research and for which the most interventions are prescribed. Intimate partner violence (IPV) researchers also frequently reference macrosystems of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status among other broad distal, yet all encompassing influences. Less researched and understood meso-, exo-, and chronosystems that respectively refer to the intersubjective connections between contexts, the influence of contexts outside the individual’s microsystem, and “ongoing changes and cumulative effects that occur over time as persons and their multiple environments interact” over their lifespan and within their socio-historical circumstances.\n\nIt is the conditions then enveloping violent behavior rather than the specific risk factors or propensities of the individual that precipitate a violent event. As such, the researcher should take a primarily situated perspective in their account of motivations, actions, and outcomes associated with such events.\n\nDialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity\n\nOne method for penetrating the complex and often opaque constructed worlds emergent from dynamic, intersubjective relational systems is through the analysis of talk or dialogism. This method attempts to get close to processes through which intersubjectivity is produced and reproduced by observing social interactions, and particularly what is said in interactions. Linell (2003) contrasted monologism that views knowledge as objectively independent of the individual to dialogism that “looks upon knowledge as necessarily constructed, negotiated, and (re)contextualised (a) in situ and in socio-cultural traditions, and (b) in dialogue with others”. From this perspective, what researchers observe within the context of relationship are dialogical phenomenon that are (a) transcendent of the current situation, (b) relationally dependent, and (c) reflective of the phenomenon’s historical and cultural traditions.\n\nThis sense of shared meaning and understanding composing intersubjective space causes people to empirically manifest as being permeated by social discourses and significant others. The shared space also provides the matrix constituting the individual’s sense of identity, composed of constituent actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions, derived from the intersubjective field. Gallese (2009) describes the automatic and unconscious mechanism mediating this emergence of the individual from the soup of the intersubjective space as embodied simulation through which we achieve “our capacity to share the meaning of actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions with others, thus grounding our identification with and connectedness to others”. \n\nAll together, mechanisms of representation and embodied simulation provide a means for humans to not only perceive what others are feeling at a largely unconscious level, dependent upon a sophisticated interplay between participant perceptions, but also provides clues as to what are mutual or shared perceptions. This important relational process has been further delineated in a study that showed (a) an individual’s ability to connect empathetically with others relies on an ability for shared perception, (b) these are embodied as sympathetic resonances in the individual’s affective system and displayed as shared representations, and (c) dysfunction or disruption of the coherence in this system can potentially create discord in the individual and in his or her relatedness with others.\n\nThe Isolated Individual\n\nCoelho and Figueiredo (2003) add, \nConsciousness always comes afterwards, after interaction with significant others and with the generalized other, after that of the world of shared meanings and social roles articulated in the form of a system and which regulate the actions of a society. It is on the basis of this generalized other that an identity of the ‘I’ can be constructed and stabilized.\n\nThe implication here is that consciousness is not an individual, solitary, nor even unique consciousness, but a consciousness continually aware of and open to revision from the world or what Merleau-Ponty called the experiences of shared reality, searches for compounds and unions in which one cannot be thought without the other. System-based ideas of self and interactive regulation, emphasize the primacy of process over static notions of structure. They locate psychological organization as the property of the mutually organized system of relationship rather than belonging to the individual alone. Objectivist traditions that “characterize perceptions and cognitions by their content, free from context and set to a ‘discreet state’ allows for the construction of defects of the Self within the individual person based on what quality is perceived as missing in the experience the researcher or practitioner seeks to understand rather than what is actually present.\n \nThe nature of the dyadic system however is that all behavior is simultaneously unfolding in the individual while at the same time modifying and being modified by the changing behavior of the partner. \n\nAlterity\n\nIt is possible that everyday encounters with others become immediately meaningful if they connect suitably with the situated lived experience of the observer. Such encounters are already known, already available for use and control. They fatten the ego with only what is easily digestible with a familiar other; a figure who is close to or even seemingly one with the subject already. The tendency is to seek what already fits with the quotidian of the familiar in lived experience. Experiences of alterity are not easily assimilated into the boundaries of the known as they are by nature, what has been excluded, unreflected, and un-lived for the subject. They are encounters with a distant or exotic other, with whom one feels very different in its alterity, becoming an often “traumatic irruption and event . . . which will always in principle exceed one’s capacity to receive, accept and understand, and which, however, as an expression of suffering, demands some response”. It is in such an encounter, in which the Other precedes the person and traumatizes them, that a felt transformation can take place. Then, appended to that initial encounter, many other processes can be affixed, thus constituting and transforming the individual Self. The resilence of \n\nEmergence of Relationship Violence\n\nThere is a basic premise harkening back to the age of Aristotle, that human beings are by nature relational. The implication is “that our psychological life cannot be the life of an isolated mind; it must originate, grow, and change within the intersubjective contexts in which we find ourselves”. Psychologies that make distinctions between singular and multiple subjective fields fail to recognize the way in which relatedness plays a constitutive and developmental role in the making of all experience by placing the individual intrapsychic world at the center of experience rather than as a “subsystem within the more encompassing relational and intersubjective suprasystem”. Such a perspective of ecological complexity encircling the Self recognizes that different configurations of relational and intrapsychic context give rise to varied configurations of the Self that, while possessing ontological continuity and unity, may experience discontinuity and multiplicity of Self.\n\nOrange defined this emergent process of intersubjectivity as “irreducibly relational”. She differentiated it from interpersonal perspectives in that its interest is in the ways that experience becomes defined and modified through engagement with others and the way that meaning emerges as a co-creation of the subjective participants. Interpersonalism on the other hand looks at “who is doing what to whom, with gambits and controls” by placing individuals in a dyad consisting of a defined subject and its object. This focus on individual action rather than the context from which such action emerges is the hallmark of IPV research and intervention to date. As such, any move to contextualize or place pathology other than solely within the individual is rejected as diverting blame away from the aggressor’s own desire for control, the manifestation of repetitive enactments of the past, or simply a denial of personal responsibility. From this perspective, little can be done to intervene in an individual’s trajectory toward perpetration as pathology will always reside in the individual and be an individualized response to any particular environment. However, if indeed “all selfhood--including enduring patterns of personality and pathology—develops and is maintained within, and as a function of, the interplay between subjectivities” as Orange theorized (p. 6), then there is an opportunity of affecting change from a societal perspective by valuing and promoting specific qualities of intersubjective acts such as empathy or reflectivity in the earliest stages of development.\n\nCairns et al. looked at how conflictual social interchanges often escalate to aggressive acts and proposed that researchers looking for explanations shift their attention beyond the individual and their action to the relational dyad and the surrounding social network in which that dyad functions to construct an interactional model of personality and behavior. They posited that clear understanding of interactional concepts of social relationship that include escalation, reciprocity, synchrony, bidirectionality, and interpersonal constraint is very much a part of understanding developmental patterns ranging from aggression to attachment and dependency to altruism. They also emphasized the importance of biological and developmental variation in influencing individual differences in behavior.\n\nCairns et al. found that aggressive behaviors are brought about by coupling the internal maturational state of the individual and the dynamic principles of the social interchange such that the more “vigorous counter-response of the partner, the more likely the attack by the subject” (p. 231). Aggressive responses are further influenced by the relative novelty of the situation or the subject’s familiarity with the context of the conflict. In other words, long standing conflicts eliciting recurring aggression may lead to pre-emptive actions at the slightest emergence of cues seemingly bypassing all prelude of apparent escalation. As such, it is the field generated by varied and unique configurations of relationship out of which emerges a particular quality of relatedness.\n\nMutual antagonism creates high stakes for engaging and perpetuating a particular behavior or course of action. Aggression tends to escalate when there is a high degree of commitment to maintaining conflict and an increased opposition due to this significant investment. In such c\\cases there is a tendency for such relationally destructive conflicts to expand and escalate detached from or regardless of any original conscious purpose. These schisms continue to flourish after any initial cause becomes irrelevant or forgotten. Discord then can be conceived as underpinning the relationship’s intersubjective field upon which a violent relationship is constructed. \n
  • Violence in a fundamental sense can be conceptualized as a dysfunction of the human need for relatedness. In one respect, violence directs aggression by aiming for the target that is the other subject, the object of desire or impediment to the same. It is the other that represents the internal need, upon whom is projected desire, manifest in mass and matter made substantial and attainable by the aggressor. The importance one may place upon the force behind the drive constructing a covalence with its aim becomes unmistakable in moments when desire concretizes in enactments intended to posses, consume, control, or enslave its object. In another respect, it seems unlikely that violence could be ideated at all without the presence of another and the intervening relatedness, strong or weak, real or imagined that exists between the subjects. \n\nIntersubjective relatedness reveals the sense of interpersonal communion between subjects who are attuned to one another in their emotional states and in their respective expressions. Habermas viewed intersubjectivity as a linguistic field within which shared understanding and meaning rely on communicative competence from the performers. Another meaning of intersubjectivity that relates back to the classic concept of Einfühlung (empathy) is the capacity for inferences to be established concerning the intentions, beliefs and feelings of others, involving simulation or the capacity to ‘read’ other subjects’ mental states and processes. In psychological terms, intersubjectivity occurs when experience is lived simultaneously by multiple subjects. This interpersonal aspect of intersubjectivity means that attention is given to the symbolic field of interactions that are the basis of what comes to be constituted as shared meaning, as consciousness, and as self. \n\nThe unfolding framework of intersubjectivity can be traced to traditional psychoanalytic models associated with early affect development as well as concepts that enable the development and maintenance of functional relatedness. While much of the research in these fields is directed toward the origination and early development of the person in infancy and childhood, there may be sufficient evidence that psychological patterns set in motion early on remain relatively stable into adulthood and can still be significantly fortified by current relationships—possibly to the detriment of the parties in the case of destructive patterns of behavior. As such, intersubjective models may play a more significant role in relational dysfunction than has been accounted for by current research methods, which largely ignore intersubjective methods as an approach for research, assessment, or treatment.\n\nNot articulating a continuum of developmental processes from childhood and adolescence into human adulthood and beyond that takes into account the ecological, interactional, and intersubjective situated nature of the individual perpetuates a conception of adults as psychologically fixed and stagnant. This is particularly true in research pertaining to relationship violence where a great deal of focus is placed on the offender’s present “defective” cognitions rather than understanding how a lack of resilience within the individuals life and relationship might deter the ill effects of various adverse life conditions as well as those that exacerbate [them].\n \nMany researchers are engaged in studies that connect the dots between various forms of adversity longitudinally throughout life experienced in myriad intersubjective contexts and resulting in any number of outcomes both favorable and detrimental. These outcomes not only manifest both physically and psychologically in the individual, but also in the intersubjective field of the relational dyad as well as intergenerationally in subsequent progeny.\n\nRelationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System\n\nIn addition to being an experience of intersubjectivity, relationship can also be conceptualized as a dynamic system encompassing tensions, conflicts, punctuated equilibriums, change, and even evolutions. Within any dynamic system, meaning is constantly in the making and often the actions and processes unfolding that which is “becoming” is more fundamental to the energetics than the product of its being. “Meaning resides in the interface,” not in the subjects themselves writes Linell, between the historically and culturally embedded subject and the ecology in which they are situated. Rosch suggested that only by seeing the cognitive process as embodied, that is inseparable from physical, linguistic, and historically situated being, can individuals comprehend meaning. Meaning emerges as a result of ongoing interpretations from human capacities of understanding that include established patterns of embodied experience along with pre-conceptual structures of sensibility that regulate the mode of perception or orientation of interaction with others. Reflection on these pre-conceptual structures as an abstract, disembodied activity possesses minor capacity to impact a particular life path. Reflection that takes into account the embodied experience is not just reflection on experience but is a form of performative experience itself that acts to disrupt habitual patterns of thought and preconceptions defining the current life space.\n\nThese patterns of perception and action are firmly fixed within the nervous system through the exploitation of topological and topographic organization and form into “neural maps” that, while exhibiting high levels of plasticity, can produce rigid responses in the individual’s interactions with external factors. The degree of plasticity of cognitive structures is the subject of much recent study and promises to provide valuable information about how enactions become habituated and, more importantly, how they can be disrupted and revised when they turn into morbid features of individuation or relationship. Once again, the system being evaluated here is the intimate relationship dyad in which habitual patterns are either reinforced or disrupted—sometimes violently—as the partners enact their patterns of embodied cognitions contextually and interactionally within their relationship and in the broader ecological system of which they are a part. \n\nAs might be expected, the dynamic systems view of development possesses several conceptual challenges for researchers and practitioners when approaching specific issues such as relationship aggression and violence, the first being multiplicity (or multicausality) of origins, which conceives coherence of Being as that which is generated solely in the relationships between the elements and the constraints and opportunities of the environment. Typical research and intervention practices related to relational violence start with the premise of individual cause and responsibility. In the dynamic and interactional systems view, no single element, including the individual, is privileged or given causal priority.\n\nThe second challenge for conceptualizing is that of timescale. Change occurs developmentally over many time periods ranging from weeks for learning processes to years for developmental processes (not to mention millennia when referencing evolutionary scales). Traditional psychological practices differentiate processes associated with each of these time scales as distinct phenomenon. In the domain of relationship violence, the discreet, individual action or “incident” is the predominant time scale for evaluation. However, time is unified and coherent in all its forms and scales just as are the collaborating elements of the dynamic system for any “organism” (and its descendants).\n\nSome studies found that nearly half of physically violent couples in a community sample desisted violent and physically aggressive behavior while a small number (5-12%) increased such activity. While further analysis would be needed to make connections between changes in aggressive behavior and the specific context shifts that facilitate or hinder improvement, these types of studies demonstrate the possibility of self-regulating functions occurring naturally within the system of the relationship dyad over time. The question for practitioners and researchers to pose then is how are those self-regulating processes being reinforced or thwarted by their theories and activities?\n\nEcological-Transactional Systems\n\nDynamic theories that embrace a bio-ecological understanding of human development hold that development of the person is reflective of the influences of several environmental systems. Microsystems pose the system in which the most direct interactions with other social agents such as family, peers, and neighbors take place. It is within this intimate system that the individual may exercise the greatest degree of self-agency in the construction of the setting and co-creation of their reality. The microsystem is the most frequently studied system in relationship violence research and for which the most interventions are prescribed. Intimate partner violence (IPV) researchers also frequently reference macrosystems of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status among other broad distal, yet all encompassing influences. Less researched and understood meso-, exo-, and chronosystems that respectively refer to the intersubjective connections between contexts, the influence of contexts outside the individual’s microsystem, and “ongoing changes and cumulative effects that occur over time as persons and their multiple environments interact” over their lifespan and within their socio-historical circumstances.\n\nIt is the conditions then enveloping violent behavior rather than the specific risk factors or propensities of the individual that precipitate a violent event. As such, the researcher should take a primarily situated perspective in their account of motivations, actions, and outcomes associated with such events.\n\nDialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity\n\nOne method for penetrating the complex and often opaque constructed worlds emergent from dynamic, intersubjective relational systems is through the analysis of talk or dialogism. This method attempts to get close to processes through which intersubjectivity is produced and reproduced by observing social interactions, and particularly what is said in interactions. Linell (2003) contrasted monologism that views knowledge as objectively independent of the individual to dialogism that “looks upon knowledge as necessarily constructed, negotiated, and (re)contextualised (a) in situ and in socio-cultural traditions, and (b) in dialogue with others”. From this perspective, what researchers observe within the context of relationship are dialogical phenomenon that are (a) transcendent of the current situation, (b) relationally dependent, and (c) reflective of the phenomenon’s historical and cultural traditions.\n\nThis sense of shared meaning and understanding composing intersubjective space causes people to empirically manifest as being permeated by social discourses and significant others. The shared space also provides the matrix constituting the individual’s sense of identity, composed of constituent actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions, derived from the intersubjective field. Gallese (2009) describes the automatic and unconscious mechanism mediating this emergence of the individual from the soup of the intersubjective space as embodied simulation through which we achieve “our capacity to share the meaning of actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions with others, thus grounding our identification with and connectedness to others”. \n\nAll together, mechanisms of representation and embodied simulation provide a means for humans to not only perceive what others are feeling at a largely unconscious level, dependent upon a sophisticated interplay between participant perceptions, but also provides clues as to what are mutual or shared perceptions. This important relational process has been further delineated in a study that showed (a) an individual’s ability to connect empathetically with others relies on an ability for shared perception, (b) these are embodied as sympathetic resonances in the individual’s affective system and displayed as shared representations, and (c) dysfunction or disruption of the coherence in this system can potentially create discord in the individual and in his or her relatedness with others.\n\nThe Isolated Individual\n\nCoelho and Figueiredo (2003) add, \nConsciousness always comes afterwards, after interaction with significant others and with the generalized other, after that of the world of shared meanings and social roles articulated in the form of a system and which regulate the actions of a society. It is on the basis of this generalized other that an identity of the ‘I’ can be constructed and stabilized.\n\nThe implication here is that consciousness is not an individual, solitary, nor even unique consciousness, but a consciousness continually aware of and open to revision from the world or what Merleau-Ponty called the experiences of shared reality, searches for compounds and unions in which one cannot be thought without the other. System-based ideas of self and interactive regulation, emphasize the primacy of process over static notions of structure. They locate psychological organization as the property of the mutually organized system of relationship rather than belonging to the individual alone. Objectivist traditions that “characterize perceptions and cognitions by their content, free from context and set to a ‘discreet state’ allows for the construction of defects of the Self within the individual person based on what quality is perceived as missing in the experience the researcher or practitioner seeks to understand rather than what is actually present.\n \nThe nature of the dyadic system however is that all behavior is simultaneously unfolding in the individual while at the same time modifying and being modified by the changing behavior of the partner. \n\nAlterity\n\nIt is possible that everyday encounters with others become immediately meaningful if they connect suitably with the situated lived experience of the observer. Such encounters are already known, already available for use and control. They fatten the ego with only what is easily digestible with a familiar other; a figure who is close to or even seemingly one with the subject already. The tendency is to seek what already fits with the quotidian of the familiar in lived experience. Experiences of alterity are not easily assimilated into the boundaries of the known as they are by nature, what has been excluded, unreflected, and un-lived for the subject. They are encounters with a distant or exotic other, with whom one feels very different in its alterity, becoming an often “traumatic irruption and event . . . which will always in principle exceed one’s capacity to receive, accept and understand, and which, however, as an expression of suffering, demands some response”. It is in such an encounter, in which the Other precedes the person and traumatizes them, that a felt transformation can take place. Then, appended to that initial encounter, many other processes can be affixed, thus constituting and transforming the individual Self. The resilence of \n\nEmergence of Relationship Violence\n\nThere is a basic premise harkening back to the age of Aristotle, that human beings are by nature relational. The implication is “that our psychological life cannot be the life of an isolated mind; it must originate, grow, and change within the intersubjective contexts in which we find ourselves”. Psychologies that make distinctions between singular and multiple subjective fields fail to recognize the way in which relatedness plays a constitutive and developmental role in the making of all experience by placing the individual intrapsychic world at the center of experience rather than as a “subsystem within the more encompassing relational and intersubjective suprasystem”. Such a perspective of ecological complexity encircling the Self recognizes that different configurations of relational and intrapsychic context give rise to varied configurations of the Self that, while possessing ontological continuity and unity, may experience discontinuity and multiplicity of Self.\n\nOrange defined this emergent process of intersubjectivity as “irreducibly relational”. She differentiated it from interpersonal perspectives in that its interest is in the ways that experience becomes defined and modified through engagement with others and the way that meaning emerges as a co-creation of the subjective participants. Interpersonalism on the other hand looks at “who is doing what to whom, with gambits and controls” by placing individuals in a dyad consisting of a defined subject and its object. This focus on individual action rather than the context from which such action emerges is the hallmark of IPV research and intervention to date. As such, any move to contextualize or place pathology other than solely within the individual is rejected as diverting blame away from the aggressor’s own desire for control, the manifestation of repetitive enactments of the past, or simply a denial of personal responsibility. From this perspective, little can be done to intervene in an individual’s trajectory toward perpetration as pathology will always reside in the individual and be an individualized response to any particular environment. However, if indeed “all selfhood--including enduring patterns of personality and pathology—develops and is maintained within, and as a function of, the interplay between subjectivities” as Orange theorized (p. 6), then there is an opportunity of affecting change from a societal perspective by valuing and promoting specific qualities of intersubjective acts such as empathy or reflectivity in the earliest stages of development.\n\nCairns et al. looked at how conflictual social interchanges often escalate to aggressive acts and proposed that researchers looking for explanations shift their attention beyond the individual and their action to the relational dyad and the surrounding social network in which that dyad functions to construct an interactional model of personality and behavior. They posited that clear understanding of interactional concepts of social relationship that include escalation, reciprocity, synchrony, bidirectionality, and interpersonal constraint is very much a part of understanding developmental patterns ranging from aggression to attachment and dependency to altruism. They also emphasized the importance of biological and developmental variation in influencing individual differences in behavior.\n\nCairns et al. found that aggressive behaviors are brought about by coupling the internal maturational state of the individual and the dynamic principles of the social interchange such that the more “vigorous counter-response of the partner, the more likely the attack by the subject” (p. 231). Aggressive responses are further influenced by the relative novelty of the situation or the subject’s familiarity with the context of the conflict. In other words, long standing conflicts eliciting recurring aggression may lead to pre-emptive actions at the slightest emergence of cues seemingly bypassing all prelude of apparent escalation. As such, it is the field generated by varied and unique configurations of relationship out of which emerges a particular quality of relatedness.\n\nMutual antagonism creates high stakes for engaging and perpetuating a particular behavior or course of action. Aggression tends to escalate when there is a high degree of commitment to maintaining conflict and an increased opposition due to this significant investment. In such c\\cases there is a tendency for such relationally destructive conflicts to expand and escalate detached from or regardless of any original conscious purpose. These schisms continue to flourish after any initial cause becomes irrelevant or forgotten. Discord then can be conceived as underpinning the relationship’s intersubjective field upon which a violent relationship is constructed. \n
  • Violence in a fundamental sense can be conceptualized as a dysfunction of the human need for relatedness. In one respect, violence directs aggression by aiming for the target that is the other subject, the object of desire or impediment to the same. It is the other that represents the internal need, upon whom is projected desire, manifest in mass and matter made substantial and attainable by the aggressor. The importance one may place upon the force behind the drive constructing a covalence with its aim becomes unmistakable in moments when desire concretizes in enactments intended to posses, consume, control, or enslave its object. In another respect, it seems unlikely that violence could be ideated at all without the presence of another and the intervening relatedness, strong or weak, real or imagined that exists between the subjects. \n\nIntersubjective relatedness reveals the sense of interpersonal communion between subjects who are attuned to one another in their emotional states and in their respective expressions. Habermas viewed intersubjectivity as a linguistic field within which shared understanding and meaning rely on communicative competence from the performers. Another meaning of intersubjectivity that relates back to the classic concept of Einfühlung (empathy) is the capacity for inferences to be established concerning the intentions, beliefs and feelings of others, involving simulation or the capacity to ‘read’ other subjects’ mental states and processes. In psychological terms, intersubjectivity occurs when experience is lived simultaneously by multiple subjects. This interpersonal aspect of intersubjectivity means that attention is given to the symbolic field of interactions that are the basis of what comes to be constituted as shared meaning, as consciousness, and as self. \n\nThe unfolding framework of intersubjectivity can be traced to traditional psychoanalytic models associated with early affect development as well as concepts that enable the development and maintenance of functional relatedness. While much of the research in these fields is directed toward the origination and early development of the person in infancy and childhood, there may be sufficient evidence that psychological patterns set in motion early on remain relatively stable into adulthood and can still be significantly fortified by current relationships—possibly to the detriment of the parties in the case of destructive patterns of behavior. As such, intersubjective models may play a more significant role in relational dysfunction than has been accounted for by current research methods, which largely ignore intersubjective methods as an approach for research, assessment, or treatment.\n\nNot articulating a continuum of developmental processes from childhood and adolescence into human adulthood and beyond that takes into account the ecological, interactional, and intersubjective situated nature of the individual perpetuates a conception of adults as psychologically fixed and stagnant. This is particularly true in research pertaining to relationship violence where a great deal of focus is placed on the offender’s present “defective” cognitions rather than understanding how a lack of resilience within the individuals life and relationship might deter the ill effects of various adverse life conditions as well as those that exacerbate [them].\n \nMany researchers are engaged in studies that connect the dots between various forms of adversity longitudinally throughout life experienced in myriad intersubjective contexts and resulting in any number of outcomes both favorable and detrimental. These outcomes not only manifest both physically and psychologically in the individual, but also in the intersubjective field of the relational dyad as well as intergenerationally in subsequent progeny.\n\nRelationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System\n\nIn addition to being an experience of intersubjectivity, relationship can also be conceptualized as a dynamic system encompassing tensions, conflicts, punctuated equilibriums, change, and even evolutions. Within any dynamic system, meaning is constantly in the making and often the actions and processes unfolding that which is “becoming” is more fundamental to the energetics than the product of its being. “Meaning resides in the interface,” not in the subjects themselves writes Linell, between the historically and culturally embedded subject and the ecology in which they are situated. Rosch suggested that only by seeing the cognitive process as embodied, that is inseparable from physical, linguistic, and historically situated being, can individuals comprehend meaning. Meaning emerges as a result of ongoing interpretations from human capacities of understanding that include established patterns of embodied experience along with pre-conceptual structures of sensibility that regulate the mode of perception or orientation of interaction with others. Reflection on these pre-conceptual structures as an abstract, disembodied activity possesses minor capacity to impact a particular life path. Reflection that takes into account the embodied experience is not just reflection on experience but is a form of performative experience itself that acts to disrupt habitual patterns of thought and preconceptions defining the current life space.\n\nThese patterns of perception and action are firmly fixed within the nervous system through the exploitation of topological and topographic organization and form into “neural maps” that, while exhibiting high levels of plasticity, can produce rigid responses in the individual’s interactions with external factors. The degree of plasticity of cognitive structures is the subject of much recent study and promises to provide valuable information about how enactions become habituated and, more importantly, how they can be disrupted and revised when they turn into morbid features of individuation or relationship. Once again, the system being evaluated here is the intimate relationship dyad in which habitual patterns are either reinforced or disrupted—sometimes violently—as the partners enact their patterns of embodied cognitions contextually and interactionally within their relationship and in the broader ecological system of which they are a part. \n\nAs might be expected, the dynamic systems view of development possesses several conceptual challenges for researchers and practitioners when approaching specific issues such as relationship aggression and violence, the first being multiplicity (or multicausality) of origins, which conceives coherence of Being as that which is generated solely in the relationships between the elements and the constraints and opportunities of the environment. Typical research and intervention practices related to relational violence start with the premise of individual cause and responsibility. In the dynamic and interactional systems view, no single element, including the individual, is privileged or given causal priority.\n\nThe second challenge for conceptualizing is that of timescale. Change occurs developmentally over many time periods ranging from weeks for learning processes to years for developmental processes (not to mention millennia when referencing evolutionary scales). Traditional psychological practices differentiate processes associated with each of these time scales as distinct phenomenon. In the domain of relationship violence, the discreet, individual action or “incident” is the predominant time scale for evaluation. However, time is unified and coherent in all its forms and scales just as are the collaborating elements of the dynamic system for any “organism” (and its descendants).\n\nSome studies found that nearly half of physically violent couples in a community sample desisted violent and physically aggressive behavior while a small number (5-12%) increased such activity. While further analysis would be needed to make connections between changes in aggressive behavior and the specific context shifts that facilitate or hinder improvement, these types of studies demonstrate the possibility of self-regulating functions occurring naturally within the system of the relationship dyad over time. The question for practitioners and researchers to pose then is how are those self-regulating processes being reinforced or thwarted by their theories and activities?\n\nEcological-Transactional Systems\n\nDynamic theories that embrace a bio-ecological understanding of human development hold that development of the person is reflective of the influences of several environmental systems. Microsystems pose the system in which the most direct interactions with other social agents such as family, peers, and neighbors take place. It is within this intimate system that the individual may exercise the greatest degree of self-agency in the construction of the setting and co-creation of their reality. The microsystem is the most frequently studied system in relationship violence research and for which the most interventions are prescribed. Intimate partner violence (IPV) researchers also frequently reference macrosystems of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status among other broad distal, yet all encompassing influences. Less researched and understood meso-, exo-, and chronosystems that respectively refer to the intersubjective connections between contexts, the influence of contexts outside the individual’s microsystem, and “ongoing changes and cumulative effects that occur over time as persons and their multiple environments interact” over their lifespan and within their socio-historical circumstances.\n\nIt is the conditions then enveloping violent behavior rather than the specific risk factors or propensities of the individual that precipitate a violent event. As such, the researcher should take a primarily situated perspective in their account of motivations, actions, and outcomes associated with such events.\n\nDialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity\n\nOne method for penetrating the complex and often opaque constructed worlds emergent from dynamic, intersubjective relational systems is through the analysis of talk or dialogism. This method attempts to get close to processes through which intersubjectivity is produced and reproduced by observing social interactions, and particularly what is said in interactions. Linell (2003) contrasted monologism that views knowledge as objectively independent of the individual to dialogism that “looks upon knowledge as necessarily constructed, negotiated, and (re)contextualised (a) in situ and in socio-cultural traditions, and (b) in dialogue with others”. From this perspective, what researchers observe within the context of relationship are dialogical phenomenon that are (a) transcendent of the current situation, (b) relationally dependent, and (c) reflective of the phenomenon’s historical and cultural traditions.\n\nThis sense of shared meaning and understanding composing intersubjective space causes people to empirically manifest as being permeated by social discourses and significant others. The shared space also provides the matrix constituting the individual’s sense of identity, composed of constituent actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions, derived from the intersubjective field. Gallese (2009) describes the automatic and unconscious mechanism mediating this emergence of the individual from the soup of the intersubjective space as embodied simulation through which we achieve “our capacity to share the meaning of actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions with others, thus grounding our identification with and connectedness to others”. \n\nAll together, mechanisms of representation and embodied simulation provide a means for humans to not only perceive what others are feeling at a largely unconscious level, dependent upon a sophisticated interplay between participant perceptions, but also provides clues as to what are mutual or shared perceptions. This important relational process has been further delineated in a study that showed (a) an individual’s ability to connect empathetically with others relies on an ability for shared perception, (b) these are embodied as sympathetic resonances in the individual’s affective system and displayed as shared representations, and (c) dysfunction or disruption of the coherence in this system can potentially create discord in the individual and in his or her relatedness with others.\n\nThe Isolated Individual\n\nCoelho and Figueiredo (2003) add, \nConsciousness always comes afterwards, after interaction with significant others and with the generalized other, after that of the world of shared meanings and social roles articulated in the form of a system and which regulate the actions of a society. It is on the basis of this generalized other that an identity of the ‘I’ can be constructed and stabilized.\n\nThe implication here is that consciousness is not an individual, solitary, nor even unique consciousness, but a consciousness continually aware of and open to revision from the world or what Merleau-Ponty called the experiences of shared reality, searches for compounds and unions in which one cannot be thought without the other. System-based ideas of self and interactive regulation, emphasize the primacy of process over static notions of structure. They locate psychological organization as the property of the mutually organized system of relationship rather than belonging to the individual alone. Objectivist traditions that “characterize perceptions and cognitions by their content, free from context and set to a ‘discreet state’ allows for the construction of defects of the Self within the individual person based on what quality is perceived as missing in the experience the researcher or practitioner seeks to understand rather than what is actually present.\n \nThe nature of the dyadic system however is that all behavior is simultaneously unfolding in the individual while at the same time modifying and being modified by the changing behavior of the partner. \n\nAlterity\n\nIt is possible that everyday encounters with others become immediately meaningful if they connect suitably with the situated lived experience of the observer. Such encounters are already known, already available for use and control. They fatten the ego with only what is easily digestible with a familiar other; a figure who is close to or even seemingly one with the subject already. The tendency is to seek what already fits with the quotidian of the familiar in lived experience. Experiences of alterity are not easily assimilated into the boundaries of the known as they are by nature, what has been excluded, unreflected, and un-lived for the subject. They are encounters with a distant or exotic other, with whom one feels very different in its alterity, becoming an often “traumatic irruption and event . . . which will always in principle exceed one’s capacity to receive, accept and understand, and which, however, as an expression of suffering, demands some response”. It is in such an encounter, in which the Other precedes the person and traumatizes them, that a felt transformation can take place. Then, appended to that initial encounter, many other processes can be affixed, thus constituting and transforming the individual Self. The resilence of \n\nEmergence of Relationship Violence\n\nThere is a basic premise harkening back to the age of Aristotle, that human beings are by nature relational. The implication is “that our psychological life cannot be the life of an isolated mind; it must originate, grow, and change within the intersubjective contexts in which we find ourselves”. Psychologies that make distinctions between singular and multiple subjective fields fail to recognize the way in which relatedness plays a constitutive and developmental role in the making of all experience by placing the individual intrapsychic world at the center of experience rather than as a “subsystem within the more encompassing relational and intersubjective suprasystem”. Such a perspective of ecological complexity encircling the Self recognizes that different configurations of relational and intrapsychic context give rise to varied configurations of the Self that, while possessing ontological continuity and unity, may experience discontinuity and multiplicity of Self.\n\nOrange defined this emergent process of intersubjectivity as “irreducibly relational”. She differentiated it from interpersonal perspectives in that its interest is in the ways that experience becomes defined and modified through engagement with others and the way that meaning emerges as a co-creation of the subjective participants. Interpersonalism on the other hand looks at “who is doing what to whom, with gambits and controls” by placing individuals in a dyad consisting of a defined subject and its object. This focus on individual action rather than the context from which such action emerges is the hallmark of IPV research and intervention to date. As such, any move to contextualize or place pathology other than solely within the individual is rejected as diverting blame away from the aggressor’s own desire for control, the manifestation of repetitive enactments of the past, or simply a denial of personal responsibility. From this perspective, little can be done to intervene in an individual’s trajectory toward perpetration as pathology will always reside in the individual and be an individualized response to any particular environment. However, if indeed “all selfhood--including enduring patterns of personality and pathology—develops and is maintained within, and as a function of, the interplay between subjectivities” as Orange theorized (p. 6), then there is an opportunity of affecting change from a societal perspective by valuing and promoting specific qualities of intersubjective acts such as empathy or reflectivity in the earliest stages of development.\n\nCairns et al. looked at how conflictual social interchanges often escalate to aggressive acts and proposed that researchers looking for explanations shift their attention beyond the individual and their action to the relational dyad and the surrounding social network in which that dyad functions to construct an interactional model of personality and behavior. They posited that clear understanding of interactional concepts of social relationship that include escalation, reciprocity, synchrony, bidirectionality, and interpersonal constraint is very much a part of understanding developmental patterns ranging from aggression to attachment and dependency to altruism. They also emphasized the importance of biological and developmental variation in influencing individual differences in behavior.\n\nCairns et al. found that aggressive behaviors are brought about by coupling the internal maturational state of the individual and the dynamic principles of the social interchange such that the more “vigorous counter-response of the partner, the more likely the attack by the subject” (p. 231). Aggressive responses are further influenced by the relative novelty of the situation or the subject’s familiarity with the context of the conflict. In other words, long standing conflicts eliciting recurring aggression may lead to pre-emptive actions at the slightest emergence of cues seemingly bypassing all prelude of apparent escalation. As such, it is the field generated by varied and unique configurations of relationship out of which emerges a particular quality of relatedness.\n\nMutual antagonism creates high stakes for engaging and perpetuating a particular behavior or course of action. Aggression tends to escalate when there is a high degree of commitment to maintaining conflict and an increased opposition due to this significant investment. In such c\\cases there is a tendency for such relationally destructive conflicts to expand and escalate detached from or regardless of any original conscious purpose. These schisms continue to flourish after any initial cause becomes irrelevant or forgotten. Discord then can be conceived as underpinning the relationship’s intersubjective field upon which a violent relationship is constructed. \n
  • Violence in a fundamental sense can be conceptualized as a dysfunction of the human need for relatedness. In one respect, violence directs aggression by aiming for the target that is the other subject, the object of desire or impediment to the same. It is the other that represents the internal need, upon whom is projected desire, manifest in mass and matter made substantial and attainable by the aggressor. The importance one may place upon the force behind the drive constructing a covalence with its aim becomes unmistakable in moments when desire concretizes in enactments intended to posses, consume, control, or enslave its object. In another respect, it seems unlikely that violence could be ideated at all without the presence of another and the intervening relatedness, strong or weak, real or imagined that exists between the subjects. \n\nIntersubjective relatedness reveals the sense of interpersonal communion between subjects who are attuned to one another in their emotional states and in their respective expressions. Habermas viewed intersubjectivity as a linguistic field within which shared understanding and meaning rely on communicative competence from the performers. Another meaning of intersubjectivity that relates back to the classic concept of Einfühlung (empathy) is the capacity for inferences to be established concerning the intentions, beliefs and feelings of others, involving simulation or the capacity to ‘read’ other subjects’ mental states and processes. In psychological terms, intersubjectivity occurs when experience is lived simultaneously by multiple subjects. This interpersonal aspect of intersubjectivity means that attention is given to the symbolic field of interactions that are the basis of what comes to be constituted as shared meaning, as consciousness, and as self. \n\nThe unfolding framework of intersubjectivity can be traced to traditional psychoanalytic models associated with early affect development as well as concepts that enable the development and maintenance of functional relatedness. While much of the research in these fields is directed toward the origination and early development of the person in infancy and childhood, there may be sufficient evidence that psychological patterns set in motion early on remain relatively stable into adulthood and can still be significantly fortified by current relationships—possibly to the detriment of the parties in the case of destructive patterns of behavior. As such, intersubjective models may play a more significant role in relational dysfunction than has been accounted for by current research methods, which largely ignore intersubjective methods as an approach for research, assessment, or treatment.\n\nNot articulating a continuum of developmental processes from childhood and adolescence into human adulthood and beyond that takes into account the ecological, interactional, and intersubjective situated nature of the individual perpetuates a conception of adults as psychologically fixed and stagnant. This is particularly true in research pertaining to relationship violence where a great deal of focus is placed on the offender’s present “defective” cognitions rather than understanding how a lack of resilience within the individuals life and relationship might deter the ill effects of various adverse life conditions as well as those that exacerbate [them].\n \nMany researchers are engaged in studies that connect the dots between various forms of adversity longitudinally throughout life experienced in myriad intersubjective contexts and resulting in any number of outcomes both favorable and detrimental. These outcomes not only manifest both physically and psychologically in the individual, but also in the intersubjective field of the relational dyad as well as intergenerationally in subsequent progeny.\n\nRelationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System\n\nIn addition to being an experience of intersubjectivity, relationship can also be conceptualized as a dynamic system encompassing tensions, conflicts, punctuated equilibriums, change, and even evolutions. Within any dynamic system, meaning is constantly in the making and often the actions and processes unfolding that which is “becoming” is more fundamental to the energetics than the product of its being. “Meaning resides in the interface,” not in the subjects themselves writes Linell, between the historically and culturally embedded subject and the ecology in which they are situated. Rosch suggested that only by seeing the cognitive process as embodied, that is inseparable from physical, linguistic, and historically situated being, can individuals comprehend meaning. Meaning emerges as a result of ongoing interpretations from human capacities of understanding that include established patterns of embodied experience along with pre-conceptual structures of sensibility that regulate the mode of perception or orientation of interaction with others. Reflection on these pre-conceptual structures as an abstract, disembodied activity possesses minor capacity to impact a particular life path. Reflection that takes into account the embodied experience is not just reflection on experience but is a form of performative experience itself that acts to disrupt habitual patterns of thought and preconceptions defining the current life space.\n\nThese patterns of perception and action are firmly fixed within the nervous system through the exploitation of topological and topographic organization and form into “neural maps” that, while exhibiting high levels of plasticity, can produce rigid responses in the individual’s interactions with external factors. The degree of plasticity of cognitive structures is the subject of much recent study and promises to provide valuable information about how enactions become habituated and, more importantly, how they can be disrupted and revised when they turn into morbid features of individuation or relationship. Once again, the system being evaluated here is the intimate relationship dyad in which habitual patterns are either reinforced or disrupted—sometimes violently—as the partners enact their patterns of embodied cognitions contextually and interactionally within their relationship and in the broader ecological system of which they are a part. \n\nAs might be expected, the dynamic systems view of development possesses several conceptual challenges for researchers and practitioners when approaching specific issues such as relationship aggression and violence, the first being multiplicity (or multicausality) of origins, which conceives coherence of Being as that which is generated solely in the relationships between the elements and the constraints and opportunities of the environment. Typical research and intervention practices related to relational violence start with the premise of individual cause and responsibility. In the dynamic and interactional systems view, no single element, including the individual, is privileged or given causal priority.\n\nThe second challenge for conceptualizing is that of timescale. Change occurs developmentally over many time periods ranging from weeks for learning processes to years for developmental processes (not to mention millennia when referencing evolutionary scales). Traditional psychological practices differentiate processes associated with each of these time scales as distinct phenomenon. In the domain of relationship violence, the discreet, individual action or “incident” is the predominant time scale for evaluation. However, time is unified and coherent in all its forms and scales just as are the collaborating elements of the dynamic system for any “organism” (and its descendants).\n\nSome studies found that nearly half of physically violent couples in a community sample desisted violent and physically aggressive behavior while a small number (5-12%) increased such activity. While further analysis would be needed to make connections between changes in aggressive behavior and the specific context shifts that facilitate or hinder improvement, these types of studies demonstrate the possibility of self-regulating functions occurring naturally within the system of the relationship dyad over time. The question for practitioners and researchers to pose then is how are those self-regulating processes being reinforced or thwarted by their theories and activities?\n\nEcological-Transactional Systems\n\nDynamic theories that embrace a bio-ecological understanding of human development hold that development of the person is reflective of the influences of several environmental systems. Microsystems pose the system in which the most direct interactions with other social agents such as family, peers, and neighbors take place. It is within this intimate system that the individual may exercise the greatest degree of self-agency in the construction of the setting and co-creation of their reality. The microsystem is the most frequently studied system in relationship violence research and for which the most interventions are prescribed. Intimate partner violence (IPV) researchers also frequently reference macrosystems of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status among other broad distal, yet all encompassing influences. Less researched and understood meso-, exo-, and chronosystems that respectively refer to the intersubjective connections between contexts, the influence of contexts outside the individual’s microsystem, and “ongoing changes and cumulative effects that occur over time as persons and their multiple environments interact” over their lifespan and within their socio-historical circumstances.\n\nIt is the conditions then enveloping violent behavior rather than the specific risk factors or propensities of the individual that precipitate a violent event. As such, the researcher should take a primarily situated perspective in their account of motivations, actions, and outcomes associated with such events.\n\nDialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity\n\nOne method for penetrating the complex and often opaque constructed worlds emergent from dynamic, intersubjective relational systems is through the analysis of talk or dialogism. This method attempts to get close to processes through which intersubjectivity is produced and reproduced by observing social interactions, and particularly what is said in interactions. Linell (2003) contrasted monologism that views knowledge as objectively independent of the individual to dialogism that “looks upon knowledge as necessarily constructed, negotiated, and (re)contextualised (a) in situ and in socio-cultural traditions, and (b) in dialogue with others”. From this perspective, what researchers observe within the context of relationship are dialogical phenomenon that are (a) transcendent of the current situation, (b) relationally dependent, and (c) reflective of the phenomenon’s historical and cultural traditions.\n\nThis sense of shared meaning and understanding composing intersubjective space causes people to empirically manifest as being permeated by social discourses and significant others. The shared space also provides the matrix constituting the individual’s sense of identity, composed of constituent actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions, derived from the intersubjective field. Gallese (2009) describes the automatic and unconscious mechanism mediating this emergence of the individual from the soup of the intersubjective space as embodied simulation through which we achieve “our capacity to share the meaning of actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions with others, thus grounding our identification with and connectedness to others”. \n\nAll together, mechanisms of representation and embodied simulation provide a means for humans to not only perceive what others are feeling at a largely unconscious level, dependent upon a sophisticated interplay between participant perceptions, but also provides clues as to what are mutual or shared perceptions. This important relational process has been further delineated in a study that showed (a) an individual’s ability to connect empathetically with others relies on an ability for shared perception, (b) these are embodied as sympathetic resonances in the individual’s affective system and displayed as shared representations, and (c) dysfunction or disruption of the coherence in this system can potentially create discord in the individual and in his or her relatedness with others.\n\nThe Isolated Individual\n\nCoelho and Figueiredo (2003) add, \nConsciousness always comes afterwards, after interaction with significant others and with the generalized other, after that of the world of shared meanings and social roles articulated in the form of a system and which regulate the actions of a society. It is on the basis of this generalized other that an identity of the ‘I’ can be constructed and stabilized.\n\nThe implication here is that consciousness is not an individual, solitary, nor even unique consciousness, but a consciousness continually aware of and open to revision from the world or what Merleau-Ponty called the experiences of shared reality, searches for compounds and unions in which one cannot be thought without the other. System-based ideas of self and interactive regulation, emphasize the primacy of process over static notions of structure. They locate psychological organization as the property of the mutually organized system of relationship rather than belonging to the individual alone. Objectivist traditions that “characterize perceptions and cognitions by their content, free from context and set to a ‘discreet state’ allows for the construction of defects of the Self within the individual person based on what quality is perceived as missing in the experience the researcher or practitioner seeks to understand rather than what is actually present.\n \nThe nature of the dyadic system however is that all behavior is simultaneously unfolding in the individual while at the same time modifying and being modified by the changing behavior of the partner. \n\nAlterity\n\nIt is possible that everyday encounters with others become immediately meaningful if they connect suitably with the situated lived experience of the observer. Such encounters are already known, already available for use and control. They fatten the ego with only what is easily digestible with a familiar other; a figure who is close to or even seemingly one with the subject already. The tendency is to seek what already fits with the quotidian of the familiar in lived experience. Experiences of alterity are not easily assimilated into the boundaries of the known as they are by nature, what has been excluded, unreflected, and un-lived for the subject. They are encounters with a distant or exotic other, with whom one feels very different in its alterity, becoming an often “traumatic irruption and event . . . which will always in principle exceed one’s capacity to receive, accept and understand, and which, however, as an expression of suffering, demands some response”. It is in such an encounter, in which the Other precedes the person and traumatizes them, that a felt transformation can take place. Then, appended to that initial encounter, many other processes can be affixed, thus constituting and transforming the individual Self. The resilence of \n\nEmergence of Relationship Violence\n\nThere is a basic premise harkening back to the age of Aristotle, that human beings are by nature relational. The implication is “that our psychological life cannot be the life of an isolated mind; it must originate, grow, and change within the intersubjective contexts in which we find ourselves”. Psychologies that make distinctions between singular and multiple subjective fields fail to recognize the way in which relatedness plays a constitutive and developmental role in the making of all experience by placing the individual intrapsychic world at the center of experience rather than as a “subsystem within the more encompassing relational and intersubjective suprasystem”. Such a perspective of ecological complexity encircling the Self recognizes that different configurations of relational and intrapsychic context give rise to varied configurations of the Self that, while possessing ontological continuity and unity, may experience discontinuity and multiplicity of Self.\n\nOrange defined this emergent process of intersubjectivity as “irreducibly relational”. She differentiated it from interpersonal perspectives in that its interest is in the ways that experience becomes defined and modified through engagement with others and the way that meaning emerges as a co-creation of the subjective participants. Interpersonalism on the other hand looks at “who is doing what to whom, with gambits and controls” by placing individuals in a dyad consisting of a defined subject and its object. This focus on individual action rather than the context from which such action emerges is the hallmark of IPV research and intervention to date. As such, any move to contextualize or place pathology other than solely within the individual is rejected as diverting blame away from the aggressor’s own desire for control, the manifestation of repetitive enactments of the past, or simply a denial of personal responsibility. From this perspective, little can be done to intervene in an individual’s trajectory toward perpetration as pathology will always reside in the individual and be an individualized response to any particular environment. However, if indeed “all selfhood--including enduring patterns of personality and pathology—develops and is maintained within, and as a function of, the interplay between subjectivities” as Orange theorized (p. 6), then there is an opportunity of affecting change from a societal perspective by valuing and promoting specific qualities of intersubjective acts such as empathy or reflectivity in the earliest stages of development.\n\nCairns et al. looked at how conflictual social interchanges often escalate to aggressive acts and proposed that researchers looking for explanations shift their attention beyond the individual and their action to the relational dyad and the surrounding social network in which that dyad functions to construct an interactional model of personality and behavior. They posited that clear understanding of interactional concepts of social relationship that include escalation, reciprocity, synchrony, bidirectionality, and interpersonal constraint is very much a part of understanding developmental patterns ranging from aggression to attachment and dependency to altruism. They also emphasized the importance of biological and developmental variation in influencing individual differences in behavior.\n\nCairns et al. found that aggressive behaviors are brought about by coupling the internal maturational state of the individual and the dynamic principles of the social interchange such that the more “vigorous counter-response of the partner, the more likely the attack by the subject” (p. 231). Aggressive responses are further influenced by the relative novelty of the situation or the subject’s familiarity with the context of the conflict. In other words, long standing conflicts eliciting recurring aggression may lead to pre-emptive actions at the slightest emergence of cues seemingly bypassing all prelude of apparent escalation. As such, it is the field generated by varied and unique configurations of relationship out of which emerges a particular quality of relatedness.\n\nMutual antagonism creates high stakes for engaging and perpetuating a particular behavior or course of action. Aggression tends to escalate when there is a high degree of commitment to maintaining conflict and an increased opposition due to this significant investment. In such c\\cases there is a tendency for such relationally destructive conflicts to expand and escalate detached from or regardless of any original conscious purpose. These schisms continue to flourish after any initial cause becomes irrelevant or forgotten. Discord then can be conceived as underpinning the relationship’s intersubjective field upon which a violent relationship is constructed. \n
  • Violence in a fundamental sense can be conceptualized as a dysfunction of the human need for relatedness. In one respect, violence directs aggression by aiming for the target that is the other subject, the object of desire or impediment to the same. It is the other that represents the internal need, upon whom is projected desire, manifest in mass and matter made substantial and attainable by the aggressor. The importance one may place upon the force behind the drive constructing a covalence with its aim becomes unmistakable in moments when desire concretizes in enactments intended to posses, consume, control, or enslave its object. In another respect, it seems unlikely that violence could be ideated at all without the presence of another and the intervening relatedness, strong or weak, real or imagined that exists between the subjects. \n\nIntersubjective relatedness reveals the sense of interpersonal communion between subjects who are attuned to one another in their emotional states and in their respective expressions. Habermas viewed intersubjectivity as a linguistic field within which shared understanding and meaning rely on communicative competence from the performers. Another meaning of intersubjectivity that relates back to the classic concept of Einfühlung (empathy) is the capacity for inferences to be established concerning the intentions, beliefs and feelings of others, involving simulation or the capacity to ‘read’ other subjects’ mental states and processes. In psychological terms, intersubjectivity occurs when experience is lived simultaneously by multiple subjects. This interpersonal aspect of intersubjectivity means that attention is given to the symbolic field of interactions that are the basis of what comes to be constituted as shared meaning, as consciousness, and as self. \n\nThe unfolding framework of intersubjectivity can be traced to traditional psychoanalytic models associated with early affect development as well as concepts that enable the development and maintenance of functional relatedness. While much of the research in these fields is directed toward the origination and early development of the person in infancy and childhood, there may be sufficient evidence that psychological patterns set in motion early on remain relatively stable into adulthood and can still be significantly fortified by current relationships—possibly to the detriment of the parties in the case of destructive patterns of behavior. As such, intersubjective models may play a more significant role in relational dysfunction than has been accounted for by current research methods, which largely ignore intersubjective methods as an approach for research, assessment, or treatment.\n\nNot articulating a continuum of developmental processes from childhood and adolescence into human adulthood and beyond that takes into account the ecological, interactional, and intersubjective situated nature of the individual perpetuates a conception of adults as psychologically fixed and stagnant. This is particularly true in research pertaining to relationship violence where a great deal of focus is placed on the offender’s present “defective” cognitions rather than understanding how a lack of resilience within the individuals life and relationship might deter the ill effects of various adverse life conditions as well as those that exacerbate [them].\n \nMany researchers are engaged in studies that connect the dots between various forms of adversity longitudinally throughout life experienced in myriad intersubjective contexts and resulting in any number of outcomes both favorable and detrimental. These outcomes not only manifest both physically and psychologically in the individual, but also in the intersubjective field of the relational dyad as well as intergenerationally in subsequent progeny.\n\nRelationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System\n\nIn addition to being an experience of intersubjectivity, relationship can also be conceptualized as a dynamic system encompassing tensions, conflicts, punctuated equilibriums, change, and even evolutions. Within any dynamic system, meaning is constantly in the making and often the actions and processes unfolding that which is “becoming” is more fundamental to the energetics than the product of its being. “Meaning resides in the interface,” not in the subjects themselves writes Linell, between the historically and culturally embedded subject and the ecology in which they are situated. Rosch suggested that only by seeing the cognitive process as embodied, that is inseparable from physical, linguistic, and historically situated being, can individuals comprehend meaning. Meaning emerges as a result of ongoing interpretations from human capacities of understanding that include established patterns of embodied experience along with pre-conceptual structures of sensibility that regulate the mode of perception or orientation of interaction with others. Reflection on these pre-conceptual structures as an abstract, disembodied activity possesses minor capacity to impact a particular life path. Reflection that takes into account the embodied experience is not just reflection on experience but is a form of performative experience itself that acts to disrupt habitual patterns of thought and preconceptions defining the current life space.\n\nThese patterns of perception and action are firmly fixed within the nervous system through the exploitation of topological and topographic organization and form into “neural maps” that, while exhibiting high levels of plasticity, can produce rigid responses in the individual’s interactions with external factors. The degree of plasticity of cognitive structures is the subject of much recent study and promises to provide valuable information about how enactions become habituated and, more importantly, how they can be disrupted and revised when they turn into morbid features of individuation or relationship. Once again, the system being evaluated here is the intimate relationship dyad in which habitual patterns are either reinforced or disrupted—sometimes violently—as the partners enact their patterns of embodied cognitions contextually and interactionally within their relationship and in the broader ecological system of which they are a part. \n\nAs might be expected, the dynamic systems view of development possesses several conceptual challenges for researchers and practitioners when approaching specific issues such as relationship aggression and violence, the first being multiplicity (or multicausality) of origins, which conceives coherence of Being as that which is generated solely in the relationships between the elements and the constraints and opportunities of the environment. Typical research and intervention practices related to relational violence start with the premise of individual cause and responsibility. In the dynamic and interactional systems view, no single element, including the individual, is privileged or given causal priority.\n\nThe second challenge for conceptualizing is that of timescale. Change occurs developmentally over many time periods ranging from weeks for learning processes to years for developmental processes (not to mention millennia when referencing evolutionary scales). Traditional psychological practices differentiate processes associated with each of these time scales as distinct phenomenon. In the domain of relationship violence, the discreet, individual action or “incident” is the predominant time scale for evaluation. However, time is unified and coherent in all its forms and scales just as are the collaborating elements of the dynamic system for any “organism” (and its descendants).\n\nSome studies found that nearly half of physically violent couples in a community sample desisted violent and physically aggressive behavior while a small number (5-12%) increased such activity. While further analysis would be needed to make connections between changes in aggressive behavior and the specific context shifts that facilitate or hinder improvement, these types of studies demonstrate the possibility of self-regulating functions occurring naturally within the system of the relationship dyad over time. The question for practitioners and researchers to pose then is how are those self-regulating processes being reinforced or thwarted by their theories and activities?\n\nEcological-Transactional Systems\n\nDynamic theories that embrace a bio-ecological understanding of human development hold that development of the person is reflective of the influences of several environmental systems. Microsystems pose the system in which the most direct interactions with other social agents such as family, peers, and neighbors take place. It is within this intimate system that the individual may exercise the greatest degree of self-agency in the construction of the setting and co-creation of their reality. The microsystem is the most frequently studied system in relationship violence research and for which the most interventions are prescribed. Intimate partner violence (IPV) researchers also frequently reference macrosystems of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status among other broad distal, yet all encompassing influences. Less researched and understood meso-, exo-, and chronosystems that respectively refer to the intersubjective connections between contexts, the influence of contexts outside the individual’s microsystem, and “ongoing changes and cumulative effects that occur over time as persons and their multiple environments interact” over their lifespan and within their socio-historical circumstances.\n\nIt is the conditions then enveloping violent behavior rather than the specific risk factors or propensities of the individual that precipitate a violent event. As such, the researcher should take a primarily situated perspective in their account of motivations, actions, and outcomes associated with such events.\n\nDialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity\n\nOne method for penetrating the complex and often opaque constructed worlds emergent from dynamic, intersubjective relational systems is through the analysis of talk or dialogism. This method attempts to get close to processes through which intersubjectivity is produced and reproduced by observing social interactions, and particularly what is said in interactions. Linell (2003) contrasted monologism that views knowledge as objectively independent of the individual to dialogism that “looks upon knowledge as necessarily constructed, negotiated, and (re)contextualised (a) in situ and in socio-cultural traditions, and (b) in dialogue with others”. From this perspective, what researchers observe within the context of relationship are dialogical phenomenon that are (a) transcendent of the current situation, (b) relationally dependent, and (c) reflective of the phenomenon’s historical and cultural traditions.\n\nThis sense of shared meaning and understanding composing intersubjective space causes people to empirically manifest as being permeated by social discourses and significant others. The shared space also provides the matrix constituting the individual’s sense of identity, composed of constituent actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions, derived from the intersubjective field. Gallese (2009) describes the automatic and unconscious mechanism mediating this emergence of the individual from the soup of the intersubjective space as embodied simulation through which we achieve “our capacity to share the meaning of actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions with others, thus grounding our identification with and connectedness to others”. \n\nAll together, mechanisms of representation and embodied simulation provide a means for humans to not only perceive what others are feeling at a largely unconscious level, dependent upon a sophisticated interplay between participant perceptions, but also provides clues as to what are mutual or shared perceptions. This important relational process has been further delineated in a study that showed (a) an individual’s ability to connect empathetically with others relies on an ability for shared perception, (b) these are embodied as sympathetic resonances in the individual’s affective system and displayed as shared representations, and (c) dysfunction or disruption of the coherence in this system can potentially create discord in the individual and in his or her relatedness with others.\n\nThe Isolated Individual\n\nCoelho and Figueiredo (2003) add, \nConsciousness always comes afterwards, after interaction with significant others and with the generalized other, after that of the world of shared meanings and social roles articulated in the form of a system and which regulate the actions of a society. It is on the basis of this generalized other that an identity of the ‘I’ can be constructed and stabilized.\n\nThe implication here is that consciousness is not an individual, solitary, nor even unique consciousness, but a consciousness continually aware of and open to revision from the world or what Merleau-Ponty called the experiences of shared reality, searches for compounds and unions in which one cannot be thought without the other. System-based ideas of self and interactive regulation, emphasize the primacy of process over static notions of structure. They locate psychological organization as the property of the mutually organized system of relationship rather than belonging to the individual alone. Objectivist traditions that “characterize perceptions and cognitions by their content, free from context and set to a ‘discreet state’ allows for the construction of defects of the Self within the individual person based on what quality is perceived as missing in the experience the researcher or practitioner seeks to understand rather than what is actually present.\n \nThe nature of the dyadic system however is that all behavior is simultaneously unfolding in the individual while at the same time modifying and being modified by the changing behavior of the partner. \n\nAlterity\n\nIt is possible that everyday encounters with others become immediately meaningful if they connect suitably with the situated lived experience of the observer. Such encounters are already known, already available for use and control. They fatten the ego with only what is easily digestible with a familiar other; a figure who is close to or even seemingly one with the subject already. The tendency is to seek what already fits with the quotidian of the familiar in lived experience. Experiences of alterity are not easily assimilated into the boundaries of the known as they are by nature, what has been excluded, unreflected, and un-lived for the subject. They are encounters with a distant or exotic other, with whom one feels very different in its alterity, becoming an often “traumatic irruption and event . . . which will always in principle exceed one’s capacity to receive, accept and understand, and which, however, as an expression of suffering, demands some response”. It is in such an encounter, in which the Other precedes the person and traumatizes them, that a felt transformation can take place. Then, appended to that initial encounter, many other processes can be affixed, thus constituting and transforming the individual Self. The resilence of \n\nEmergence of Relationship Violence\n\nThere is a basic premise harkening back to the age of Aristotle, that human beings are by nature relational. The implication is “that our psychological life cannot be the life of an isolated mind; it must originate, grow, and change within the intersubjective contexts in which we find ourselves”. Psychologies that make distinctions between singular and multiple subjective fields fail to recognize the way in which relatedness plays a constitutive and developmental role in the making of all experience by placing the individual intrapsychic world at the center of experience rather than as a “subsystem within the more encompassing relational and intersubjective suprasystem”. Such a perspective of ecological complexity encircling the Self recognizes that different configurations of relational and intrapsychic context give rise to varied configurations of the Self that, while possessing ontological continuity and unity, may experience discontinuity and multiplicity of Self.\n\nOrange defined this emergent process of intersubjectivity as “irreducibly relational”. She differentiated it from interpersonal perspectives in that its interest is in the ways that experience becomes defined and modified through engagement with others and the way that meaning emerges as a co-creation of the subjective participants. Interpersonalism on the other hand looks at “who is doing what to whom, with gambits and controls” by placing individuals in a dyad consisting of a defined subject and its object. This focus on individual action rather than the context from which such action emerges is the hallmark of IPV research and intervention to date. As such, any move to contextualize or place pathology other than solely within the individual is rejected as diverting blame away from the aggressor’s own desire for control, the manifestation of repetitive enactments of the past, or simply a denial of personal responsibility. From this perspective, little can be done to intervene in an individual’s trajectory toward perpetration as pathology will always reside in the individual and be an individualized response to any particular environment. However, if indeed “all selfhood--including enduring patterns of personality and pathology—develops and is maintained within, and as a function of, the interplay between subjectivities” as Orange theorized (p. 6), then there is an opportunity of affecting change from a societal perspective by valuing and promoting specific qualities of intersubjective acts such as empathy or reflectivity in the earliest stages of development.\n\nCairns et al. looked at how conflictual social interchanges often escalate to aggressive acts and proposed that researchers looking for explanations shift their attention beyond the individual and their action to the relational dyad and the surrounding social network in which that dyad functions to construct an interactional model of personality and behavior. They posited that clear understanding of interactional concepts of social relationship that include escalation, reciprocity, synchrony, bidirectionality, and interpersonal constraint is very much a part of understanding developmental patterns ranging from aggression to attachment and dependency to altruism. They also emphasized the importance of biological and developmental variation in influencing individual differences in behavior.\n\nCairns et al. found that aggressive behaviors are brought about by coupling the internal maturational state of the individual and the dynamic principles of the social interchange such that the more “vigorous counter-response of the partner, the more likely the attack by the subject” (p. 231). Aggressive responses are further influenced by the relative novelty of the situation or the subject’s familiarity with the context of the conflict. In other words, long standing conflicts eliciting recurring aggression may lead to pre-emptive actions at the slightest emergence of cues seemingly bypassing all prelude of apparent escalation. As such, it is the field generated by varied and unique configurations of relationship out of which emerges a particular quality of relatedness.\n\nMutual antagonism creates high stakes for engaging and perpetuating a particular behavior or course of action. Aggression tends to escalate when there is a high degree of commitment to maintaining conflict and an increased opposition due to this significant investment. In such c\\cases there is a tendency for such relationally destructive conflicts to expand and escalate detached from or regardless of any original conscious purpose. These schisms continue to flourish after any initial cause becomes irrelevant or forgotten. Discord then can be conceived as underpinning the relationship’s intersubjective field upon which a violent relationship is constructed. \n
  • Violence in a fundamental sense can be conceptualized as a dysfunction of the human need for relatedness. In one respect, violence directs aggression by aiming for the target that is the other subject, the object of desire or impediment to the same. It is the other that represents the internal need, upon whom is projected desire, manifest in mass and matter made substantial and attainable by the aggressor. The importance one may place upon the force behind the drive constructing a covalence with its aim becomes unmistakable in moments when desire concretizes in enactments intended to posses, consume, control, or enslave its object. In another respect, it seems unlikely that violence could be ideated at all without the presence of another and the intervening relatedness, strong or weak, real or imagined that exists between the subjects. \n\nIntersubjective relatedness reveals the sense of interpersonal communion between subjects who are attuned to one another in their emotional states and in their respective expressions. Habermas viewed intersubjectivity as a linguistic field within which shared understanding and meaning rely on communicative competence from the performers. Another meaning of intersubjectivity that relates back to the classic concept of Einfühlung (empathy) is the capacity for inferences to be established concerning the intentions, beliefs and feelings of others, involving simulation or the capacity to ‘read’ other subjects’ mental states and processes. In psychological terms, intersubjectivity occurs when experience is lived simultaneously by multiple subjects. This interpersonal aspect of intersubjectivity means that attention is given to the symbolic field of interactions that are the basis of what comes to be constituted as shared meaning, as consciousness, and as self. \n\nThe unfolding framework of intersubjectivity can be traced to traditional psychoanalytic models associated with early affect development as well as concepts that enable the development and maintenance of functional relatedness. While much of the research in these fields is directed toward the origination and early development of the person in infancy and childhood, there may be sufficient evidence that psychological patterns set in motion early on remain relatively stable into adulthood and can still be significantly fortified by current relationships—possibly to the detriment of the parties in the case of destructive patterns of behavior. As such, intersubjective models may play a more significant role in relational dysfunction than has been accounted for by current research methods, which largely ignore intersubjective methods as an approach for research, assessment, or treatment.\n\nNot articulating a continuum of developmental processes from childhood and adolescence into human adulthood and beyond that takes into account the ecological, interactional, and intersubjective situated nature of the individual perpetuates a conception of adults as psychologically fixed and stagnant. This is particularly true in research pertaining to relationship violence where a great deal of focus is placed on the offender’s present “defective” cognitions rather than understanding how a lack of resilience within the individuals life and relationship might deter the ill effects of various adverse life conditions as well as those that exacerbate [them].\n \nMany researchers are engaged in studies that connect the dots between various forms of adversity longitudinally throughout life experienced in myriad intersubjective contexts and resulting in any number of outcomes both favorable and detrimental. These outcomes not only manifest both physically and psychologically in the individual, but also in the intersubjective field of the relational dyad as well as intergenerationally in subsequent progeny.\n\nRelationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System\n\nIn addition to being an experience of intersubjectivity, relationship can also be conceptualized as a dynamic system encompassing tensions, conflicts, punctuated equilibriums, change, and even evolutions. Within any dynamic system, meaning is constantly in the making and often the actions and processes unfolding that which is “becoming” is more fundamental to the energetics than the product of its being. “Meaning resides in the interface,” not in the subjects themselves writes Linell, between the historically and culturally embedded subject and the ecology in which they are situated. Rosch suggested that only by seeing the cognitive process as embodied, that is inseparable from physical, linguistic, and historically situated being, can individuals comprehend meaning. Meaning emerges as a result of ongoing interpretations from human capacities of understanding that include established patterns of embodied experience along with pre-conceptual structures of sensibility that regulate the mode of perception or orientation of interaction with others. Reflection on these pre-conceptual structures as an abstract, disembodied activity possesses minor capacity to impact a particular life path. Reflection that takes into account the embodied experience is not just reflection on experience but is a form of performative experience itself that acts to disrupt habitual patterns of thought and preconceptions defining the current life space.\n\nThese patterns of perception and action are firmly fixed within the nervous system through the exploitation of topological and topographic organization and form into “neural maps” that, while exhibiting high levels of plasticity, can produce rigid responses in the individual’s interactions with external factors. The degree of plasticity of cognitive structures is the subject of much recent study and promises to provide valuable information about how enactions become habituated and, more importantly, how they can be disrupted and revised when they turn into morbid features of individuation or relationship. Once again, the system being evaluated here is the intimate relationship dyad in which habitual patterns are either reinforced or disrupted—sometimes violently—as the partners enact their patterns of embodied cognitions contextually and interactionally within their relationship and in the broader ecological system of which they are a part. \n\nAs might be expected, the dynamic systems view of development possesses several conceptual challenges for researchers and practitioners when approaching specific issues such as relationship aggression and violence, the first being multiplicity (or multicausality) of origins, which conceives coherence of Being as that which is generated solely in the relationships between the elements and the constraints and opportunities of the environment. Typical research and intervention practices related to relational violence start with the premise of individual cause and responsibility. In the dynamic and interactional systems view, no single element, including the individual, is privileged or given causal priority.\n\nThe second challenge for conceptualizing is that of timescale. Change occurs developmentally over many time periods ranging from weeks for learning processes to years for developmental processes (not to mention millennia when referencing evolutionary scales). Traditional psychological practices differentiate processes associated with each of these time scales as distinct phenomenon. In the domain of relationship violence, the discreet, individual action or “incident” is the predominant time scale for evaluation. However, time is unified and coherent in all its forms and scales just as are the collaborating elements of the dynamic system for any “organism” (and its descendants).\n\nSome studies found that nearly half of physically violent couples in a community sample desisted violent and physically aggressive behavior while a small number (5-12%) increased such activity. While further analysis would be needed to make connections between changes in aggressive behavior and the specific context shifts that facilitate or hinder improvement, these types of studies demonstrate the possibility of self-regulating functions occurring naturally within the system of the relationship dyad over time. The question for practitioners and researchers to pose then is how are those self-regulating processes being reinforced or thwarted by their theories and activities?\n\nEcological-Transactional Systems\n\nDynamic theories that embrace a bio-ecological understanding of human development hold that development of the person is reflective of the influences of several environmental systems. Microsystems pose the system in which the most direct interactions with other social agents such as family, peers, and neighbors take place. It is within this intimate system that the individual may exercise the greatest degree of self-agency in the construction of the setting and co-creation of their reality. The microsystem is the most frequently studied system in relationship violence research and for which the most interventions are prescribed. Intimate partner violence (IPV) researchers also frequently reference macrosystems of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic status among other broad distal, yet all encompassing influences. Less researched and understood meso-, exo-, and chronosystems that respectively refer to the intersubjective connections between contexts, the influence of contexts outside the individual’s microsystem, and “ongoing changes and cumulative effects that occur over time as persons and their multiple environments interact” over their lifespan and within their socio-historical circumstances.\n\nIt is the conditions then enveloping violent behavior rather than the specific risk factors or propensities of the individual that precipitate a violent event. As such, the researcher should take a primarily situated perspective in their account of motivations, actions, and outcomes associated with such events.\n\nDialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity\n\nOne method for penetrating the complex and often opaque constructed worlds emergent from dynamic, intersubjective relational systems is through the analysis of talk or dialogism. This method attempts to get close to processes through which intersubjectivity is produced and reproduced by observing social interactions, and particularly what is said in interactions. Linell (2003) contrasted monologism that views knowledge as objectively independent of the individual to dialogism that “looks upon knowledge as necessarily constructed, negotiated, and (re)contextualised (a) in situ and in socio-cultural traditions, and (b) in dialogue with others”. From this perspective, what researchers observe within the context of relationship are dialogical phenomenon that are (a) transcendent of the current situation, (b) relationally dependent, and (c) reflective of the phenomenon’s historical and cultural traditions.\n\nThis sense of shared meaning and understanding composing intersubjective space causes people to empirically manifest as being permeated by social discourses and significant others. The shared space also provides the matrix constituting the individual’s sense of identity, composed of constituent actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions, derived from the intersubjective field. Gallese (2009) describes the automatic and unconscious mechanism mediating this emergence of the individual from the soup of the intersubjective space as embodied simulation through which we achieve “our capacity to share the meaning of actions, intentions, feelings, and emotions with others, thus grounding our identification with and connectedness to others”. \n\nAll together, mechanisms of representation and embodied simulation provide a means for humans to not only perceive what others are feeling at a largely unconscious level, dependent upon a sophisticated interplay between participant perceptions, but also provides clues as to what are mutual or shared perceptions. This important relational process has been further delineated in a study that showed (a) an individual’s ability to connect empathetically with others relies on an ability for shared perception, (b) these are embodied as sympathetic resonances in the individual’s affective system and displayed as shared representations, and (c) dysfunction or disruption of the coherence in this system can potentially create discord in the individual and in his or her relatedness with others.\n\nThe Isolated Individual\n\nCoelho and Figueiredo (2003) add, \nConsciousness always comes afterwards, after interaction with significant others and with the generalized other, after that of the world of shared meanings and social roles articulated in the form of a system and which regulate the actions of a society. It is on the basis of this generalized other that an identity of the ‘I’ can be constructed and stabilized.\n\nThe implication here is that consciousness is not an individual, solitary, nor even unique consciousness, but a consciousness continually aware of and open to revision from the world or what Merleau-Ponty called the experiences of shared reality, searches for compounds and unions in which one cannot be thought without the other. System-based ideas of self and interactive regulation, emphasize the primacy of process over static notions of structure. They locate psychological organization as the property of the mutually organized system of relationship rather than belonging to the individual alone. Objectivist traditions that “characterize perceptions and cognitions by their content, free from context and set to a ‘discreet state’ allows for the construction of defects of the Self within the individual person based on what quality is perceived as missing in the experience the researcher or practitioner seeks to understand rather than what is actually present.\n \nThe nature of the dyadic system however is that all behavior is simultaneously unfolding in the individual while at the same time modifying and being modified by the changing behavior of the partner. \n\nAlterity\n\nIt is possible that everyday encounters with others become immediately meaningful if they connect suitably with the situated lived experience of the observer. Such encounters are already known, already available for use and control. They fatten the ego with only what is easily digestible with a familiar other; a figure who is close to or even seemingly one with the subject already. The tendency is to seek what already fits with the quotidian of the familiar in lived experience. Experiences of alterity are not easily assimilated into the boundaries of the known as they are by nature, what has been excluded, unreflected, and un-lived for the subject. They are encounters with a distant or exotic other, with whom one feels very different in its alterity, becoming an often “traumatic irruption and event . . . which will always in principle exceed one’s capacity to receive, accept and understand, and which, however, as an expression of suffering, demands some response”. It is in such an encounter, in which the Other precedes the person and traumatizes them, that a felt transformation can take place. Then, appended to that initial encounter, many other processes can be affixed, thus constituting and transforming the individual Self. The resilence of \n\nEmergence of Relationship Violence\n\nThere is a basic premise harkening back to the age of Aristotle, that human beings are by nature relational. The implication is “that our psychological life cannot be the life of an isolated mind; it must originate, grow, and change within the intersubjective contexts in which we find ourselves”. Psychologies that make distinctions between singular and multiple subjective fields fail to recognize the way in which relatedness plays a constitutive and developmental role in the making of all experience by placing the individual intrapsychic world at the center of experience rather than as a “subsystem within the more encompassing relational and intersubjective suprasystem”. Such a perspective of ecological complexity encircling the Self recognizes that different configurations of relational and intrapsychic context give rise to varied configurations of the Self that, while possessing ontological continuity and unity, may experience discontinuity and multiplicity of Self.\n\nOrange defined this emergent process of intersubjectivity as “irreducibly relational”. She differentiated it from interpersonal perspectives in that its interest is in the ways that experience becomes defined and modified through engagement with others and the way that meaning emerges as a co-creation of the subjective participants. Interpersonalism on the other hand looks at “who is doing what to whom, with gambits and controls” by placing individuals in a dyad consisting of a defined subject and its object. This focus on individual action rather than the context from which such action emerges is the hallmark of IPV research and intervention to date. As such, any move to contextualize or place pathology other than solely within the individual is rejected as diverting blame away from the aggressor’s own desire for control, the manifestation of repetitive enactments of the past, or simply a denial of personal responsibility. From this perspective, little can be done to intervene in an individual’s trajectory toward perpetration as pathology will always reside in the individual and be an individualized response to any particular environment. However, if indeed “all selfhood--including enduring patterns of personality and pathology—develops and is maintained within, and as a function of, the interplay between subjectivities” as Orange theorized (p. 6), then there is an opportunity of affecting change from a societal perspective by valuing and promoting specific qualities of intersubjective acts such as empathy or reflectivity in the earliest stages of development.\n\nCairns et al. looked at how conflictual social interchanges often escalate to aggressive acts and proposed that researchers looking for explanations shift their attention beyond the individual and their action to the relational dyad and the surrounding social network in which that dyad functions to construct an interactional model of personality and behavior. They posited that clear understanding of interactional concepts of social relationship that include escalation, reciprocity, synchrony, bidirectionality, and interpersonal constraint is very much a part of understanding developmental patterns ranging from aggression to attachment and dependency to altruism. They also emphasized the importance of biological and developmental variation in influencing individual differences in behavior.\n\nCairns et al. found that aggressive behaviors are brought about by coupling the internal maturational state of the individual and the dynamic principles of the social interchange such that the more “vigorous counter-response of the partner, the more likely the attack by the subject” (p. 231). Aggressive responses are further influenced by the relative novelty of the situation or the subject’s familiarity with the context of the conflict. In other words, long standing conflicts eliciting recurring aggression may lead to pre-emptive actions at the slightest emergence of cues seemingly bypassing all prelude of apparent escalation. As such, it is the field generated by varied and unique configurations of relationship out of which emerges a particular quality of relatedness.\n\nMutual antagonism creates high stakes for engaging and perpetuating a particular behavior or course of action. Aggression tends to escalate when there is a high degree of commitment to maintaining conflict and an increased opposition due to this significant investment. In such c\\cases there is a tendency for such relationally destructive conflicts to expand and escalate detached from or regardless of any original conscious purpose. These schisms continue to flourish after any initial cause becomes irrelevant or forgotten. Discord then can be conceived as underpinning the relationship’s intersubjective field upon which a violent relationship is constructed. \n
  • It is important to distinguish between causes and correlates that determine what the influence behaviors, traits, and situations play in relationship violence and who is to blame. The first involves the asking of empirical questions while the latter requires moral questions. Each approach also has its own institutions for responding to what is found. One of the complications of IPV research is the merging of response institutions in what is at once an individual, social, and moral issue. Law enforcement and criminal justice systems are currently the primary agent of change and preferred vehicle for intervention in IPV. The wisdom of this state is a separate debate, but one that strongly frames the research and mental health professional communities choices in addressing IPV. Reliance on law enforcement and criminal justice can be viewed as a failure of informal social controls and a move that will often contain a problem, but never solve it. This reliance by the IPV community on law enforcement has resulted in the institution of increasingly punitive responses to IPV perpetration including mandatory arrest and no drop convictions of domestic violence cases.\n\nFirst, here is little evidence that arrest and conviction are deterrents to IPV situations. Few specific studies have been done and the application of deterrence theory to noneconomically motivated forms of crime is spotty at best. Second, the arrest and conviction of a partner is often counter to the needs and desires of the couple who are economically and emotionally reliant on each other and who have no intention of separating. The idea that violent couples “are incapable of judging what is in their best interest and that ‘professionals’ should make these decisions” has obvious implications for the means and methods advocates will use in IPV intervention and the extent to which an individual’s experience, desires, and liberties are factored in. Most significantly, mandatory arrest policies that are being widely adopted in most jurisdictions have exploded the arrests of female partners and thus sparked debates regarding female IPV perpetration and gender-symmetry of IPV along with broadening the net of law enforcement to capture a far more diverse population of individuals, many of whom do not easily fit the mold of criminal offender. The use of the label ‘batterer’ begins to shape our perceptions in approaching the problem, activating a set of associations and assumptions that may or may not be pertinent to the issues at hand” (p. 261). Because these programs are operating under the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies rather than community mental health, they are frequently beholden to outcome measures related to recidivism and compliance rather than reconciliation, restitution, and restoration. \n\nShelter agencies have done a commendable job in protecting extremely vulnerable members of society by providing safe havens and restorative services where they are needed. However, the mission of protecting battered women is not the same as serving the IPV community as a whole. Such an expansion of aid would require that agencies segment out gender inclusive services (in addition to their existing shelter services) and in the tradition of other mental health related agencies, remain neutral to ideological frameworks while adopting both clinical and empirically tested modalities. In keeping with the philosophy of placing relationship and not violence at the center of agency practice, a primary goal of such expanded services should be the reconciliation and restoration of the relationship or family, whatever form that takes.\n\nFinally, it seems implicit from the lack of clinical programs and advocacy for relationship violence sufferers, other than as individual clients, that the official psychotherapeutic community has effectively abdicated its authority over issues of mental health as they relate to IPV to law enforcement and pseudo-therepeutic practitioners. Ethically, therapists should be actively engaged in assessing and capturing distressed, disordered, and traumatized individuals to prevent their further victimization by an undifferentiated intervention system. \n\nAll theory aside, prevailing responses to IPV have meant an increasing number of individuals have found their way into the criminal justice system and into court mandated intervention programs based on little or no empirical data or clinical modeling. Additional policies and laws are continually being created based on these same incomplete perspectives. Findings that connect IPV to processes resulting in adverse childhood experience (ACE) induced trauma, development of PTSD, and personality disorders, in addition to empirical studies of intervention effectiveness (Corvo, 2006), imply that current programs are inadequate for tackling the deeper issues underpinning IPV.\n\nWhere the Rubber Meets the Road\n\nBased on the interpretations and inductions of literature presented in this dissertation that link disruption of attachment processes to IPV contributing factors of affect regulation, self control, faulty cognition, and personality disorder, This dissertation proposes psychotherepeutic treatment principles for self pathologies based on developmental models of regulation be considered as supplements to existing cognitive behavioral and skills education practices. Some of the principles of this model as postulated by Schore primarily conceptualize self psychopathology as deficits in affect regulation resultant of arrested emotional development whose treatment should focus on (a) establishing empathic emotional attunement among the participants, (b) exploring unconscious affect processes, (c) emphasizing process over content, and (d) working toward repair and restoration of self-regulatory resilience and the actualization of self.\n\nBowlby in positing the provision of a secure base of attachment, along with the pro-social and affect regulation benefits that are derived from secure attachments, linked theoretically and clinically to Winnicot’s and Bion’s concept of a holding or containing environment respectively. These well-established postulates, are fine-tuned descriptions of aspects of mutually influencing intersubjective contact based on emotional attunement. As such, the therapeutic container construct can provide solid footing for mental health interventions and the construction of therapeutic environments of all kinds. Creating a secure container for any therapeutic session brings with it the sense of security that individuals struggling with IPV so desperately lack. While addressing faulty cognitions and skills deficits is also indicated in the literature as significant contributors to IPV, the effectiveness of current programs directed at those issues may suffer from strong client resistance involving well established affect patterns of reactivity or withholding if an appropriate and safe working environment is not first established.\n\nIntegral to the establishment of the therapeutic container, is the establishment of a therapeutic alliance between the therapist—or in the case of BIPs, the group facilitator—and the client. The therepeutic tasks for restoring insecure attachment, include first “the creation of a safe place or secure base from which the client can explore thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding self and attachment figures” and second “exploration of current relationships with attachment figures” (i.e., intimate partner). The consecration of the therapeutic group container qualifies the fulfillment of both of these tasks. Lastly, the exploration of the relationship with the therapist as an attachment figure within the immediacy of the therapeutic container. I propose more importantly, that a therapeutic alliance between the client members of the therapy group is also critical to the success of a program directed toward IPV. \n\nThe alliance between the group members if unattended often unconsciously aligns along well established patterns of relational dysfunction that become mutually responsive, constituting something of a feedback loop among the group for their customary behavioral patterns. In such cases, the facilitator may be forced into an authoritative role and be positioned in opposition to the emergent group norms rather than allied with them. This is a particularly acute issue in BIP settings where expectations of compliance from group participants and the frequent practice of requiring that the clients sign a legally binding behavioral contract already weakens the possible therapeutic alliance and establishes a de facto state of Us vs. Them. Since therapeutic alliances are theoretically tied to the concept of transference, the establishment of unconscious positive perceptions by the client regarding their relatedness to a facilitator is crucial to the successful establishment of an alliance and thus the creation of the therapeutic container as a venue for emotional exploration and archaeology. The persistence, specificity, and emotional significance of attachment bonds to insecurely attached individuals means that therapeutic staff who establish attachment roles with clients may be able to provide the experience of a secure base for the client whose attachment needs are activated during periods of distress and corrective experiences that disconfirm [their] insecure ‘internal working models’ of attachment relationships.\n\nAs a psychodynamic process, establishing a therapeutic bond facilitates the ongoing reflective function of mentalization that allows for the further development of reflexivity by instituting praxes of reflecting on and evaluating ones own emotional experience. At the same time, critical empathic capacities of the client are also impacted by their engagement in reflecting upon the minds of others (the facilitator and other group members). By integrating container building processes into the group model of BIP, important individual capacities that improve the quality of relatedness are promoted while traits that are demonstrably linked to issues of IPV are mitigated. In addition, it is possible that the deepened relatedness of the group would impact the acceptance and adoption of cognitive and relational skills practices taught in the groups and, most importantly, reduce group attrition, which, as stated above, is the primary predictor of recidivism.\n\nSchore (2001) wrote that “the promotion of affect regulation is now seen as a common mechanism in all forms of psychotherapy” and “psychotherapeutic treatment for severe attachment disorders should begin as early in the lifespan as possible”. Corvo and de Lara (2010) traced the trajectory of relational violence from early exposure in the family of origin, through early childhood and adolescent dating and bullying experiences as developmental intermediaries, and culminating in adult intimate partner violence. This cycle of violence is presumably intergenerational in its scope; is subject to specific traits and identifiable precursors from individuals; and is expansive and encompassing in its ecology and multiplicity of developmental pathways. They identified several loci on the relationship violence trajectory where both prevention and early intervention may alter the course of the individual toward further troubles. Countless papers have been written about the economy of proactive preventive action over reactive interventions. The pursuit of further understanding of developmental causes, early personality markers, and precursor events should and must take priority over further intervention research if research findings are ever to have a significant impact on the prevalence of aggression and violence in intimate relationships.\n\n\n
  • Houston reminded us that “trust always contains the seeds of its own betrayal” and responsibility is about understanding how or why we as individuals set up the conditions for our own betrayal. We see in the two dominant Western myths of betrayal, Adam and Eve, Christ and Judas, that betrayal brings with it reflective consciousness and transcendence, but at the expense of great suffering. Suffering it seems has always been our path to redemption and the restorative process. Betrayals are opportunities for psychological growth as we become open and available to a broader spectrum of the human experience. Frankl (1959) wrote that in moments of our most intense suffering, it is the “mental agony caused by the injustice, the unreasonableness of it all” that is the most intolerable. These things must cause us to lose our reason else we have none to lose he wrote. In these moments, people are operating under a provisional existence in which retrospective thinking keeps them stuck in the past. People must transition their thinking from what they may have always expected from life to one in which they ask, “what does life expect from [me]” (p. 98). Our sense of purpose sometimes miraculously blossoms from the rich soil of suffering, especially when that suffering draws forth from a betrayal of our sense of who we are in relation to family and community. This may be part of the legacy domestic violence leaves to American society if researchers and practitioners are able to understand and eventually transform its effects. If we as human researchers are to extract meaning and eventually resolution from our encounters with such evil, it may require that we first engage it where it is most wounded and attempt to apply our healing skills at that place first.\n\n
  • James D Brown Oral Defense Presentation

    1. 1. Reclaiming the Soul of Relationship Intimate Partner Relationship and the TranspersonalOftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world. But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all. Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self. You are the way and the wayfarers. Kahlil Gibran: The Prophet—On Crime and Punishment
    2. 2. Statement of Research Problem andQuestionWhat role does intervention as it exists now play in stoppingdomestic violence?What other possibilities are relevant to furthering progresstoward the aim of ending domestic violence in communities?How could alternative perspectives on domestic violence thatincorporate depth psychologically influenced theories inform orinfluence our approaches to domestic violence interventions?
    3. 3. Literature DomainsThere are three core areas of literature contributing to this work: Intimate Partner Violence !"#$%&()*"+$,($) -,&#.&$)/.0&,$0) Attachment Development *"+$,($) !"#$%&"#$%&(! 0(./.1(%/!%$"! )#*+,&*!-.",/! 2$+,34,3*.$%/! Depth Psychology 9,:! ! 2$+,38,$+.$ -.",/*! *! 10.,%2$0%",.+3)! 7&&.(4#$,&)This dissertation explores the 2$+,3*567,(+8,! !$2&4) -.",/*! !$8$+"2#$,&) /%5(4"+"65)intersection of these three fieldsof inquiry. !
    4. 4. IntentionCritical evaluation of current theory driving interventionIdentify alternative or under-represented perspectivesBroaden conventional theoretical perspectivesRe-imagine intervention and intervention programs
    5. 5. Research MethodologyThe theoretical framework used in this dissertation embracedpractices related to: Critical Hermeneutics Depth Psychology
    6. 6. Defining the FieldThere are four primary sections to this work: Unpacking Relationship Violence Research: Takes a critical look at current IPV research. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence: Presents alternative viewpoints composed of underrepresented models. (re)Framing the Individual: Suggests new ways of understanding individuals involved in violent relationships. (re)Imagining Intervention: Posits modifications to prevention and intervention modalities based on the research.
    7. 7. Unpacking Relationship Violence ResearchThis section looks at three key factors of IPV research: The Violent Act The Context of Violent Acts Qualities of Relatedness in Intimate Partnerships
    8. 8. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:
    9. 9. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:Coercive andexpressive control
    10. 10. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:Coercive andexpressive controlTypology of IPV
    11. 11. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:Coercive andexpressive controlTypology of IPVReciprocal aggression
    12. 12. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:Coercive andexpressive controlTypology of IPVReciprocal aggressionEscalation
    13. 13. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:Coercive and Regulating factorsexpressive controlTypology of IPVReciprocal aggressionEscalation
    14. 14. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:Coercive and Regulating factorsexpressive control The “Red Line”Typology of IPVReciprocal aggressionEscalation
    15. 15. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:Coercive and Regulating factorsexpressive control The “Red Line”Typology of IPV Attitudes and beliefsReciprocal aggressionEscalation
    16. 16. (re)Modeling Relationship Violence Examines at the following phenomena:Coercive and Regulating factorsexpressive control The “Red Line”Typology of IPV Attitudes and beliefsReciprocal aggression Transmission throughEscalation generations
    17. 17. (re)Framing the Individual Assesses perceptions of individuals in the relationship by critically evaluating:
    18. 18. (re)Framing the Individual Assesses perceptions of individuals in the relationship by critically evaluating: The Batterer
    19. 19. (re)Framing the Individual Assesses perceptions of individuals in the relationship by critically evaluating: The Batterer Evil
    20. 20. (re)Framing the Individual Assesses perceptions of individuals in the relationship by critically evaluating: The Batterer Evil Vilification
    21. 21. (re)Framing the Individual Assesses perceptions of individuals in the relationship by critically evaluating: The Batterer Evil Vilification Typology of the “Batterer”
    22. 22. DistressUses the lens of attachment development to restructure IPV perceptions based on the following factors:
    23. 23. DistressUses the lens of attachment development to restructure IPV perceptions based on the following factors: Phenomenology of IPV
    24. 24. DistressUses the lens of attachment development to restructure IPV perceptions based on the following factors: Phenomenology of IPV Risk factors and predictors
    25. 25. DistressUses the lens of attachment development to restructure IPV perceptions based on the following factors: Phenomenology of IPV Risk factors and predictors The damaged Self
    26. 26. DistressUses the lens of attachment development to restructure IPV perceptions based on the following factors: Phenomenology of IPV Risk factors and predictors The damaged Self Relational attachment
    27. 27. DistressUses the lens of attachment development to restructure IPV perceptions based on the following factors: Phenomenology of IPV Risk factors and predictors The damaged Self Relational attachment Affect regulation: the impelling and inhibition of aggression
    28. 28. Transpersonal ExplorationThis section applies a depth psychological and transpersonalframework to the IPV dialectic by investigating the following:
    29. 29. Transpersonal ExplorationThis section applies a depth psychological and transpersonalframework to the IPV dialectic by investigating the following: Inter-subjectivity
    30. 30. Transpersonal ExplorationThis section applies a depth psychological and transpersonalframework to the IPV dialectic by investigating the following: Inter-subjectivity Relationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System
    31. 31. Transpersonal ExplorationThis section applies a depth psychological and transpersonalframework to the IPV dialectic by investigating the following: Inter-subjectivity Relationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System Ecological-Transactional Systems
    32. 32. Transpersonal ExplorationThis section applies a depth psychological and transpersonalframework to the IPV dialectic by investigating the following: Inter-subjectivity Relationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System Ecological-Transactional Systems Dialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity
    33. 33. Transpersonal ExplorationThis section applies a depth psychological and transpersonalframework to the IPV dialectic by investigating the following: Inter-subjectivity Relationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System Ecological-Transactional Systems Dialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity The Isolated Individual
    34. 34. Transpersonal ExplorationThis section applies a depth psychological and transpersonalframework to the IPV dialectic by investigating the following: Inter-subjectivity Relationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System Ecological-Transactional Systems Dialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity The Isolated Individual Alterity
    35. 35. Transpersonal ExplorationThis section applies a depth psychological and transpersonalframework to the IPV dialectic by investigating the following: Inter-subjectivity Relationship as a Dyadic and Dynamic Transactional System Ecological-Transactional Systems Dialogism: language, perception, imitation, and identity The Isolated Individual Alterity Emergence of Relationship Violence
    36. 36. (re)Imagining InterventionEvolution and Failures of IPV Systems: A critical evaluation ofexisting IPV interventionsWhere the Rubber Meets the Road: Suggests modalityrevisions to current IPV programs based on findings
    37. 37. ConclusionCurrent IPV systems are limited in effectiveness due to over-simplified theoretical models upon which they are basedA multi-dimensional approach to the phenomena that are IPVenhances possible responses and provides alternativetrajectories for prevention and intervention

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