The impact of the PACE treatment program on five physically abusive military men: a case study approach

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1990-03-05
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Virginia Tech
Abstract

In the 1985 "National Family Violence Resurvey'' conducted by Gelles & Straus (1988) one out of every six couples experienced a physical assault during 1985. At this rate, 8.7 million couples experienced at least one assault during the year. Shelter and assistance for the abused wife have been viewed as important and forthcoming. However, spouse abuse will not stop until effective treatment for men, more often the abuser, is offered. In response to the incidence of abuse in the military, services and programs for both the abusers and their wives have been developed. One treatment program for the abuser which was assessable for this study was the Prevention through Anger Control and Education (PACE) treatment program.

The purpose of the research was to study the reactions and progress of abusers as they moved through the PACE treatment program. Five subjects participated in the study. Data were collected throughout the course of treatment by interviews and questionnaires which were administered to the abuser, wife, and group facilitator. A follow-up interview was conducted with the subjects one year after treatment to collect post treatment data. Quantitative data were also collected but later used only for descriptive purposes.

Findings from the case study method showed that the PACE treatment program may have had limited impact on the abusers. While the outcomes were not strong, some changes in subjects' behavior, feelings, and thinking were evident. Abusers tended to respond with socially acceptable answers and behaviors during treatment. Interview with wives and the group facilitator were helpful in establishing the accuracy of these reports. Subjects reported a cessation of abuse, but it could not be ascertained whether coping strategies learned from the group had made a difference in the relationships because four of the five couples had divorced by the follow-up. However, they reported that the skills learned from the group allowed them to seek a divorce in a non-abusive manner. The abuser with the intact marriage did report utilizing several of the newly learned coping strategies. The abusers did report that the skills learned from the program helped them handle stress: better, decrease their propensity to provocation in other situations, and expected them to help in future relationships.

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