Friday, December 11, 2015

It’s (Not) Over: Relationship Instability and Recovery Between Victims and Detained Domestic Abusers

We used an innovative data set involving audio-recorded conversations between abusers and victims to explore the interactional patterns that occur within violent relationships, following severe violence and the abuser’s detainment. 

Using micro-level conversational data, our analysis sequenced the hopes/desires that victims and abusers expressed around their expectations for continuing or discontinuing a connection with each other. Conversations commonly included an expressed statement to end the relationship. Although it was common for both victims and abusers to express hope of ending the relationship, victims were most likely to initiate this desire. 

In response, abusers used multiple strategies to regain connection, including 
  1. challenging the victim, 
  2. declaring love or a desire to continue the relationship, 
  3. appealing for sympathy or help from the victim, and 
  4. mirroring or accepting the victim’s desire to end the relationship (when other strategies were unsuccessful). 
Abusers’ responses served to cultivate additional conflict in the relationship while at the same time maintained communication and facilitated relationship recovery following threats of dissolution. 

These findings contribute to an increased theoretical understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence in the sensitive period involving the couple’s physical separation.

Purchase full article at:

  1. 1Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA
  2. 2Arizona State University, Tempe, USA
  3. 3Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
  1. Christin L. Carotta, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University, 522 W. Circle Drive, East Lansing, MI, 48824, USA.

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