Testing A Social-Cognitive Model of Intimate Abusiveness Among Substance Dependent Males

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Virginia Tech

Throughout history, the human race has been characterized by the use of physical and emotional aggression by individuals, particularly males, in their intimate relationships. Intimate abusiveness is particularly common among substance dependent males. As a result of male intimate abusiveness, victims suffer a variety of problems ranging from emotional trauma to death due to physical injury. Despite increased attention to this problem, our understanding of the process leading to intimate abusiveness is far from comprehensive. The primary purpose of the present study was to expand our understanding of intimate abusiveness through the application of a social-cognitive model of intimate abusiveness among substance dependent males.

Fifty-seven males from an inpatient substance abuse treatment program participated. Subjects completed questionnaires indicating their level of intimate abusiveness. In addition, they completed partner-related attribution measures as well as coping response measures indicating how they would interpret and handle five ambiguous vignettes involving their partner.

It was hypothesized that violent men would attribute greater negative intent and responsibility to their partner and that they would choose to handle the ambiguous vignettes in less competent ways compared with non-violent men. Further, it was predicted that the association between intimate abusiveness and competency of coping responses would be mediated by attributions made about the partner. Results of the study generally supported predictions. The implications of the results are discussed as well as suggestions for future research.

Domestic Violence, Substance Dependence, Social-Cognitve Theory