The Male Batterer: Clinical and Research Issues

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Since 1977, treatment and education programs for men who are assaultive toward spouses have proliferated across the country. Due to the great risk these men have posed to family members, many of the early intervention strategies were based on clinical intuition, clinical style, and personal understanding of the causes of family violence rather than on research data. These approaches to treatment have fallen into three camps: (1) a cognitive understanding of sexism, power, and control in intimate relationships; (2) behavioral anger management; and (3) family systems. Although service providers argue that their particular approach is the most effective, there is no data that indicate that any one form of treatment is more successful than others. As more empirical data are made available to service providers, treatment interventions can be appropriately modified. A greater dialogue between service providers, social policy makers, and academics is necessary to bridge the gaps in understanding the psychology of men who are assaultive toward intimates. Specific recommendations are made that may lead us to a better understanding of the etiology of spouse abuse as well as to the formulation of more effective intervention and prevention strategies.

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