The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project
Manuscripts and Online Data Base
Overview of Findings by the Authors
#5 Prevalence of Partner Abuse:
Rates of Emotional Abuse and Control
Michelle Mohr Carney and John R. Barner 330 pages.
Full manuscript available in Partner Abuse Vol. 3, Issue no. 3 (2012), pp.286-335
The effort within the social science research literature that seeks to preserve the duality of typifying IPV as a singular construct while simultaneously delineating behavioral variance has resulted in two broad, overlapping categorizations – clinical and relational. Clinical studies of IPV with a view towards psychopathological indicators, behavioral patterns, or genetic predispositions would tend toward a monolithic conception of IPV, with each sub-strata (e.g., stalking behavior, sexual coercion, or emotional aggression) being emblematic of a larger, internalized propensity to violence. Relational studies tend to view IPV sub-strata “more as a dysfunction of the interactional and relational processes of courtship and relationship evolution, rather than a disorder of the individual’s attachment system” (Spitzberg & Cupach, 2003, p. 348).
Researchers such as Johnson (2008) and Stark (2007) have advanced such typological delineation under the label of Controlling Coercive Violence (CCV). CCV, which as a model of both clinical traits and relational characteristics unites previously disparate sub-strata of violent or aggressive behaviors under a definitional “pattern of emotionally abusive intimidation, coercion, and control coupled with physical violence against partners” (Kelly & Johnson, 2008, p. 478).
Specifically included in this review are the findings from research relative to prevalence rates for emotional abuse/control, sexual coercion, stalking, combined physical assaults and emotional abuse/control, sexual coercion and stalking, and controlling/coercive violence or combined rates of physical and non-physical abuse, what Michael Johnson (2008) now calls “Controlling Coercive Violence” (CCV). Studies included rates for males and females and were all conducted in industrialized English speaking countries. A differential/deviant case relational organizing framework of emotional abuse/control, sexual coercion, and stalking behavior within Johnson’s (2008) schema of CCV was used for summarizing the studies given that the assumptions of CCV are, ostensibly, that these occur WITHIN (and EVOLVE from) a once normative relational context, namely through increase in incidence or prevalence. A variety of search engines were used to identify empirical work including PsychINFO, WebofScience, ERIC, EBSCO (Social Work Abstracts; Criminal Justice Abstracts), ProQuest Research (Social Services Abstracts; Sociological Abstracts), and Google Scholar.
Four broad conclusions can be drawn from this review.
This review highlights the need for increases in reportage, adjudication, and assessments of prevalence. With regard to policies, advocates, practitioners, and researchers alike must sound the call for uniform definitions, legislation, and law enforcement standards that specifically address emotional and psychological abuse, sexual coercion, and stalking behaviors. Uniform policies are the stable basis from which victim-appropriate, empirically rigorous and accurate prevalence studies are conducted, interventions designed, and programs initiated.
Research into the three facets of CCV in this review have uncovered several potential areas of interest for researchers and avenues for further development where only one or a few studies have been conducted to date, but which reported significant findings. Recommendations for further research are grouped in the manuscript according to the CCV category to which they apply.