U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Male-Perpetrated Domestic Violence: Testing a Series of Multifactorial Family Models (From Violence Against Women and Family Violence: Developments in Research, Practice, and Policy, 2004, Bonnie Fisher, ed. -- See NCJ-199701)

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
13 pages
Using family data from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS), this study identified risk factors associated with male-perpetrated domestic violence and accompanying partner mental distress as well as child behavior problems.
The congressionally mandated NVVRS was conducted in the mid- to late 1980's. Its primary purpose was to document rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other adjustment difficulties among veterans who fought in the Vietnam War. The study involved more than 4,000 participants and consisted of a number of components, including an extensive assessment of family life among community-residing male veteran-female partner dyads. Using this subset of the larger database, the current study tested a series of models to obtain information about the antecedents, correlates, and consequences of violence against women. Data were obtained on four categories of variables related to the veteran's background: his account of family-of-origin characteristics and childhood experiences; his conduct and behavioral problems prior to age 15; his exposure to war-zone stressors; and his PTSD symptomatology and associated alcohol abuse. Face-to-face, structured interviews, with some supplementary self-report measures, were administered to participants throughout the United States. For the 2 study components in which ratings of child behavior problems were involved, sample sizes were 260 and 254; for the 2 components that involved couple interactions, sample sizes were 367 and 372. The findings provide support for the guiding trauma-focused perspective, i.e., that exposure to highly stressful life events in a man's childhood or early adulthood and their psychological consequences may explain later partner battering and concomitant partner psychological distress and child behavior problems. As a general statement, there was apparently a "chaining" of variables depicting pathways by which a man's adverse childhood experiences were linked to difficulties in his subsequent marriage and family life. There was a link between trauma exposure (combat and threat in the war zone) and postwar PTSD and alcohol abuse, which in turn were linked to domestic violence. Thus, the pattern of associations among the veteran's childhood family dysfunction, childhood antisocial behavior, combat exposure, and perceived threat in the war zone were particularly noteworthy, especially in the context of revictimization interpretation. Implications are drawn for practitioners and for future research. 3 exhibits and 18 references

Date Published: January 1, 2004