• Phenomenology of Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence

      Watt, Margaret Elizabeth; Scrandis, Debra (2011)
      Abstract Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is an ancient problem that is still poorly understood. In Maryland, there were 18,557 intimate partner violence (IPV) related crimes involving families and children. Research and public policy has been approached from the feminist perspective. Research has clearly shown what effects violence has on women. Only recently has the medical community realized that children exposed to violence are at not only directly in harms way, they are at risk of future victimization or perpetration of IPV. There has been a dearth of research from the male perpetrator perspective. As a result, policy and treatment of these men has been punitive and ineffective in stopping the cycle of violence. Research has not asked the question of why men become violent against their intimate partner. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the perspective of men who have been violent with their female intimate partners. A qualitative methodology was chosen to build a foundation of knowledge in an area where there is a lack of knowledge. Method: Gadamer's hermeneutic phenomenology was the philosophical principle that guided this study. The biopsychosocial model was the theoretical model. The sample included nine men who had a history of IPV and were incarcerated in the Pre-Release Center of the Montgomery County Department of Corrections. They were interviewed twice over a 5-month period. Both interviews were audiotaped. The first interview was approximately ninety minutes. The second interview was a follow up interview that lasted approximately thirty minutes. The men also completed the Trauma Screening Tool-Self-Report, a 29-question tool, at the end of the first interview. The interviewer was blinded to the results until after the qualitative data analysis. The tool screens for six types of trauma exposures that includes unintentional traumatic exposure, direct and personal traumatic exposure, family violence and trauma, violent environment, sexual abuse and abandonment. The final section of the tool consists of four questions that screen for posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms (PTSD). Qualitative data was analyzed using van Manen's rules. The trauma screen was analyzed using SPSS frequencies. Results: The themes that emerged included childhood and family issues, school and mental health issues, substance abuse and legal issues. The themes related to IPV include his perception of the incident, his perception of her actions and his perception of the system. The men all reported extensive violence exposures during childhood, school problems, substance abuse problems and arrests. Eight of the nine men reported traumatic experiences in childhood. Shortly after the trauma, they began to have problems in school. They began using substances and all but one dropped out of school. They were all arrested for a spectrum of crimes. The men were candid when discussing their past interactions with the legal system. The nine men completed trauma screens that reflected extensive violence exposure. Seven of the eight men reported a history of physical assault or abuse. None of the men had been screened or treated for violence exposures despite multiple involvements with the legal system and medical and mental health systems. vi Conclusion: Many of the symptoms described by the men and their progression of violent behavior are consistent with posttraumatic stress disorder. The study found some similarities with existing research but gives a unique view of the progression to violence that has not been previously reported in this population. Nursing can have an impact on IPV by screening all patients for violence exposure and identifying individuals at risk.