Violence Against Women Survey

Everyone has the right to live free of violence.Violence against women is a technical term used to collectively refer to violent acts that are primarily or exclusively committed against women. Similar to a hate crime, this type of violence targets a specific group with the victim's gender as a primary motive.

The United Nations General Assembly defines "violence against women" as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A UN resolution designated November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Some historians believe that the history of violence against women is tied to the history of women being viewed as property and a gender role assigned to be subservient to men..

Many of the theories about the causes of perpetrating violence against women are drawn from the literature on aggression and general violence. Both the research on general violence and that on violence against women suggest that violence arises from interactions among individual biological and psychosocial factors and social processes (e.g., Reiss and Roth, 1993), but it is not known how much overlap there is in the development of violent behavior against women and other violent behavior. Studies of male batterers have found that some batterers confine their violent behavior to their intimates but others are violent in general (Fagan et al., 1983; Cadsky and Crawford, 1988; Shields et al., 1988; Saunders, 1992; Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart, 1994). The research suggests that, at least in some cases, there may be differences in the factors that cause violence against women and those that cause other violent behavior. Much more work is needed in order to understand in what ways violence against women differs from other violent behavior. Such understanding will be particularly important for developing preventive interventions.

The extent of violence against women can be divided into two types: extreme violence which can ends in death and this called fatal violence, and the nonfatal violence.

Causes of violence

Individual Determinants

Evolution From an evolutionary perspective, the goal of sexual behavior is to maximize the likelihood of passing on one's genes. This goal involves maximizing the chances that one will have offspring who themselves will survive to reproduce. . A number of studies have shown that young adult males are more interested in partner variety, less interested in committed long-term relationships, and more willing to engage in impersonal sex than are young adult females (Clark and Hatfield, 1989; Symons

There is much debate over how much influence evolutionary factors have on modern human beings. Even those who favor evolutionary explanations acknowledge that additional factors are necessary to explain sexual assault and intimate partner violence. For example, Quinsey and Lalumière (1995) suggest that rape and other sexual coercion may be explained by the evolutionary approach that is modified by specific attitudes toward women or by psychopathy, coupled with an erotic interest in coercive sexual behavior.

Physiology and Neurophysiology The physiological or neurophysiological correlates of violence and aggression that have received particular attention are the functioning of steroid hormones such as testosterone; the functioning of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA); neuroanatomical abnormalities; neurophysiological abnormalities; and brain dysfunctions that interfere with cognition or language processing. A recent comprehensive literature review (Archer, 1991) concluded that the majority of studies showed that high testosterone levels tend to covary with high probabilities of aggressive behaviors, dominance status, and pathological forms of aggression in nonhuman mammals, but that the picture for humans is not as clear. In humans, there appears to be a correlation between testosterone levels and aggression, but it is not clear whether testosterone levels influence aggressive behavior or vary as a result of aggressive behavior.

Psychopathology and Personality Traits A number of studies have found a high incidence of psychopathology and personality disorders, most frequently antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality organization, or posttraumatic stress syndrome, among men who assault their wives (Hamberger and Hastings, 1986, 1988, 1991; Hart et al., 1993; Dutton and Starzomski, 1993; Dutton, 1994, 1995; Dutton et al., 1994). A wide variety of psychiatric and personality disorders have also been diagnosed among sexual offenders, most frequently some type of antisocial personality disorder (Prentky, 1990).

Attitudes and Gender Schemas Cultural myths about violence, gender scripts and roles, sexual scripts and roles, and male entitlements are represented at the individual level as attitudes and gender schemas.

Beliefs and myths about rape may serve as rationalizations for those who commit violent acts. For example, incarcerated rapists often rationalize that their victim either desired or deserved to experience forced sexual acts. Similarly, culturally sanctioned beliefs about the rights and privileges of husbands have historically legitimized a man's domination over his wife and warranted his use of violence to control her. Men, in general, are more accepting of men abusing women, and the most culturally traditional men are the most accepting (Greenblatt, 1985). Batterers' often excuse their violence by pointing to their wives' ''unwifely" behavior as their justification (Dobash and Dobash, 1979; Adams, 1988; Ptacek, 1988).

Sex and Power Motives Violence against women is widely believed to be motivated by needs to dominate women. This view conjures the image of a powerful man who uses violence against women as a tool to maintain his superiority, but research suggests that the relationship is more complex. Power and control frequently underlie intimate partner violence, but the purpose of the violence may also be in response to a man's feelings of powerlessness and inability to accept rejection (Browne and Dutton, 1990). It also has been argued that rape, in particular, represents fulfillment of sexual needs through violence (Ellis, 1989), but research has found that motives of power and anger are more prominent in the rationalizations for sexual aggression than sexual desires (Lisak and Roth, 1990; Lisak, 1994). Sexually aggressive men openly admit that their sexual fantasies are dominated by aggressive and sadistic material (Greendlinger and Byrne, 1987; Quinsey, 1984).

Social Learning Social learning theory posits that humans learn social behavior by observing others' behavior and the consequences of that behavior, forming ideas about what behaviors are appropriate, trying those behaviors, and continuing them if the results are positive (O'Leary, 1988). This theory does not view aggression as inevitable, but rather sees it as a social behavior that is learned and shaped by its consequences, continuing if it is reinforced (Lore and Schultz, 1993). From this perspective, male violence against women endures in human societies because it is modeled both in individual families and in the society more generally and has positive results: it releases tension, leaves the perpetrator feeling better, often achieves its ends by cutting off arguments, and is rarely associated with serious punishment for the perpetrator.

One of the mechanisms through which social learning occurs is social information processing—the decoding or interpreting of social interactions, making decisions about appropriate responses on the basis of the decoding, and carrying out a response to see if it has the intended effect. It has been hypothesized that violent men may be deficient in the skills necessary to accurately decode communications from women. For example, men's judgments of videotapes of male-female interactions are more highly sexualized than women's judgments (Abbey, 1991; Kowalski, 1992, 1993). Batterers appear to be more likely than nonviolent men to attribute negative intentions to their partners' actions and to behave negatively

Dyadic Contexts

An individual man carries out violence against a woman in a dyadic context that includes features of the relationship, characteristics of the woman, and their communication. The stage of relationship between a man and woman may determine, in part, the probability of violence. Anecdotal evidence from battered women suggest that a man often refrains from physical violence until a women has made an emotional commitment to him, such as moving in together, getting engaged or married, or becoming pregnant (e.g., Walker, 1979; Giles-Sims, 1983; Browne, 1987). It is suggested that the emotional bond between the couple once formed, may contribute to the man's sense of entitlement to control his partner's behavior as well as diminish the facility with which the woman can leave the relationship without ambivalence. Some evidence suggests that women are willing to see the first violent incident as an anomaly, and so are willing to forgive it, although this response may actually reinforce the violent behavior (Giles-Sims, 1983).

Institutional Influences

Family, Schools, and Religion Families are where all socialization begins, including socialization for all types of violent behavior. Studies of violent criminals and violent sex offenders have found these men are more likely than other adults to have experienced poor parental childrearing, poor supervision, physical abuse, neglect, and separations from their parents (Langevin et al., 1985; Farrington, 1991). Increased risk of adult intimate partner violence is associated with exposure to violence between a person's parents while growing up. One-third of children who have been abused or exposed to parental violence become violent adults (Widom, 1989). Sons of violent parents are more likely to abuse their intimate partners than boys from nonviolent homes (Straus et al., 1980). Men raised in patriarchal family structures in which traditional gender roles are encouraged are more likely to become violent adults, to rape women acquaintances, and to batter their intimate partners than men raised in more egalitarian homes (Straus et al., 1980; Gwartney-Gibbs et al., 1983; Fagot et al., 1988; Friedrich et al., 1988; Koss and Dinero, 1989; Riggs and O'Leary, 1989; Malamuth et al., 1991, 1995). Sexual abuse in childhood has been identified as a risk factor in males for sexual offending as an adult (Groth and Birnbaum, 1979; Briere, 1992). Experiences of sexual abuse in one's family may lead to inaccurate notions about healthy sexuality, inappropriate justifications for violent behavior, failure to develop personal boundaries, and contribute to communication and coping styles that rely on denial, reinterpretation of experiences, and avoidance (Briere, 1992; Herman, 1992).

Athletic teams also may socialize children to behavior that is supportive of violence. For example, male athletes may be spurred to greater aggressive efforts by coaches who deride them as "girls." Participation in revenue-producing sports at the collegiate level was found to be a significant predictor of sexual aggression among college students (Koss and Gaines, 1993). It is possible that team sports, particularly revenue-producing sports, attract young men who are already aggressive. Whether team sports encourage aggressive behavior or simply reinforce already existing aggressive tendencies remains to be determined. In either case, it appears that participation in team sports is a risk factor for sexual aggression.

Media Many feminist writers (e.g., Brownmiller, 1975; Dworkin, 1991; Russell, 1993) have suggested that pornography encourages the objectification of women and endorses and condones sexual aggression toward women. Both laboratory research and studies of television lend support to this view. Exposure to pornography under laboratory conditions has been found to increase men's aggression toward women, particularly when a male participant has been affronted, insulted, or provoked by a woman (Linz et al., 1992). Sexual arousal to depictions of rape is characteristic of sexual offenders (Hall, 1990). Even exposure to nonexplicit sexual scenes with graphic violence has been shown to decrease empathy for rape victims (Linz et al., 1988). It appears that it is the depiction of violence against women more than sexual explicitness that results in callousness toward female victims of violence and attitudes that are accepting of such violence (Donnerstein and Linz, 1994).

Societal Influences

For much of recorded Western European and American history, wives had no independent legal status; they were basically their husbands' property. The right of a husband to physically chastise his wife was upheld by the Supreme Court of Mississippi in 1824 ( Bradley v. State 1 Miss. 157) and again by a court in North Carolina in 1868 (State v. Rhodes, 61 N.C. 453, 353; cited in Pleck, 1989). In 1871 a court ruling in Alabama (Fulgham v. State, 46 Ala. 146-147) made that state the first to rescind a husband's right to beat his wife (Fagan and Browne, 1994). During the 1870s, coinciding with the rise of the child protective movement, there was increased concern that wife beating should be treated as a crime, although few men were ever punished (Pleck, 1989). In the 1890s social casework replaced criminal justice as the preferred system for dealing with family violence and general interest in wife beating waned until the 1960s (Fagan and Browne, 1994).

The status of women as property also can be seen in the development of laws concerning rape. Brownmiller (1975:8) contends that "rape entered the law … as a property crime of man against man. Woman, of course, was viewed as the property." She notes that until the end of the thirteenth century, only unmarried virgins were considered blameless in their victimization; married women who were raped were punished along with their rapist. At that time, the Statutes of West-minister put forward by Edward I of England extended the same penalties to men who raped married women as to those who raped virgins. Rape within marriage, however, was, by definition, impossible. Marriage laws traditionally assumed implied consent to sexual relations by wives and allowed husbands to use force to gain compliance (Fagan and Browne, 1994). It has only been in recent years that laws have begun to recognize marital rape: today every state in the United States has modified or eliminated the marriage exclusion in its rape laws (personal communication, National Clearing-house on Marital and Date Rape, Berkeley, California).

Sexual Scripts

Expectations about dating and intimate relationships are conveyed by culturally transmitted scripts. Scripts support violence when they encourage men to feel superior, entitled, and licensed as sexual aggressors with women as their prey, while holding women responsible for controlling the extent of sexual involvement (White and Koss, 1993). Parents socialize daughters to resist sexual advances and sons to initiate sexual activity (Ross, 1977). By adolescence, both boys and girls have been found to endorse scripts about sexual interaction that delineate a justifiable rape. For example, approximately 25 percent of middle school, high school, and college students state that it is acceptable for a man to force sex on a woman if he spent money on her (Goodchilds and Zellman, 1984; Muehlenhard et al., 1985; Goodchilds et al., 1988).

Cultural Mores Ethnographic and anthropologic studies determine the critical role that sociocultural mores play in defining and promoting violence against women. Anthropologists have found cultural differences in the amount of and acceptability of intimate partner violence in different societies. A review of 14 different societies (Counts et al., 1992) found that physical chastisement of wives was tolerated in all the societies and considered necessary in many societies, but the rates and severity of wife beating were found to range from almost nonexistent to very frequent. These differences seem to be related to negative sanctions for men who overstepped "acceptable" limits, sanctuaries for women to escape violence, and a sense of honor based on nonviolence or decent treatment of women (Campbell, 1992).

Multifactor Models

It is generally accepted that multiple classes of influences—from the individual to the macrolevel—determine the expression of assaultive and sexually aggressive behavior in men (for recent reviews see Ellis, 1989; Sugarman and Hotaling, 1989; Craig, 1990; Hall, 1990; Malamuth and Dean, 1991; Berkowitz, 1992; Shotland, 1992; White and Koss, 1993; White, in press). Although it is possible to model at a general level the causal factors that explain the variance among the forms of violence against women, the heterogeneity of violent men precludes the delineation of a single set of causes that accurately classifies types of offenders. Therefore, researchers have turned to multivariate modeling of violence. Recent efforts include a biopsychosocial model of battering that examines the relative contribution of three domains of predictors including the physical (e.g., testosterone, prolactin, and alcohol), the social (e.g., negative life events, quality of relationships, family income, and social support), and psychiatric symptoms (McKenry et al., 1995). The results showed significant zero-order correlations within each class of predictors, but in multivariate analysis the social variables predicted violence better than the other variables.

Risk Factors for Victimization

Factors that have been at one time or another linked to women's likelihood of being raped or battered are passivity, hostility, low self-esteem, alcohol and drug use, violence in the family of origin, having more education or income than their intimate partners, and the use of violence toward children. However, based on a critical review of all 52 studies conducted in the prior 15 years that included comparison groups, Hotaling and Sugarman (1986) found that the only risk marker consistently associated with being the victim of physical abuse was having witnessed parental violence as a child. And this factor characterized not only the victimized women, but also their male assailants. Recent studies also found no specific personality and attitudinal characteristics that make certain women more vulnerable to battering (e.g., Pittman and Taylor, 1992). Although alcoholic women are more likely to report moderate to severe violence in their relationships than more moderate drinkers, the association disappears after controlling for alcohol problems in their partners (Miller, 1992, as cited in Leonard, 1993). On the basis of findings such as these, several writers have concluded that the major risk factor for battering is being a woman.

Personality traits and attitudes that could increase vulnerability to rape have also been explored. The earliest studies, and the only ones to implicate victim personality traits, used different recruitment techniques to obtain subjects: the rape victims were often found among those who had sought help at crisis centers; the nonvictims were college student volunteers (Selkin, 1978; Myers et al., 1984). These methodological differences bias the samples, especially on personality traits like dominance, femininity, and social presence—exactly the variables on which the groups were found to differ. When identical selection procedures were used to select victims and nonvictims, no differences were found in personality characteristics, assertiveness, or identification with feminine stereotyped behavior (Koss, 1985; Koss and Dinero, 1989).

One risk profile did emerge that characterized a small subset (10 percent) of women for whom the risk of rape was twice the rate for women without the profile. Those women were characterized by a background of childhood sexual abuse, liberal sexual attitudes, and higher than average alcohol use and larger number of sexual partners. Researchers presume that having a large number of sexual partners implies short-term relationships and therefore more dating partners, but neither frequency of dates nor number of dating partners has been directly tested as a risk factor. Koss and Dinero (1989) concluded that sexual assault was generally not predictable, but to the extent it could be, was accounted for by variables that represented the aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse, including influences on drinking, sexual values, and level of sexual activity. Recent prospective data support this assertion (Gidycz et al., 1995). Adolescent sexual victimization significantly predicted alcohol consumption at the onset of college, while alcohol consumption during college did not predict subsequent victimization. The link between childhood sexual abuse and adult victimization has been replicated many times across ethnic groups (Wyatt et al., 1992; Gidycz et al., 1993; Urquiza and Goodlin-Jones, 1994; Wyatt and Riederle, 1994). The other certain risk factor for rape (in addition to being female and having been abused previously) is being young: epidemiological data indicate that women

Physical concequences

A woman is more likely to be injured if she is victimized by an intimate than by a stranger (Bachman and Saltzman, 1995). Victims of battering suffer from a host of physical injuries, from bruises, scratches, and cuts to burns, broken bones, concussions, miscarriages, stab wounds, and gunshot wounds to permanent damage to vision or hearing, joints, or internal organs to death. Bruises and lacerations to the head, face, neck, breasts, and abdomen are typical.

Psychological Consequences

Victims of intimate partner violence and rape exhibit a variety of psychological symptoms that are similar to those of victims of other types of trauma, such as war and natural disaster. Following a trauma, many victims experience shock, denial, disbelief, fear, confusion, and withdrawal (Burgess and Holmstrom, 1974; Walker, 1979; Browne, 1987; Herman, 1992; Janoff-Bulman, 1992; van der Kolk, 1994). Assaulted women may become dependent and suggestible and have difficulty undertaking long-range planning or decision making (Bard and Sangrey, 1986). Although a single victimization may lead to permanent emotional scars, ongoing and repetitive violence is clearly highly deleterious to psychological adjustment (Follingstad et al., 1991). In one national study, the more a woman had been assaulted, the more psychological distress she experienced (Gelles and Harrop, 1989).1

A large empirical literature documents the psychological symptoms experienced in the aftermath of rape (for reviews see Frieze et al., 1987; Resick, 1987, 1990; McCann et al., 1988; Roth and Lebowitz, 1988; Hanson, 1990; Lurigio and Resick, 1990). Rape (with the exception of marital rape) is more likely than partner violence to be an isolated incident, which creates a somewhat different course of recovery. For many victims, postrape distress peaks approximately 3 weeks after the assault, continues at a high level for the next month, and by 2 or 3 months later recovery has begun (Davidson and Foa, 1991; Rothbaum et al., 1992). Many differences between rape victims and nonvictimized women disappear after 3 months with the exception of continued reports of fear, self-esteem problems, and sexual problems, which may persist for up to 18 months or longer (Resick, 1987). Approximately one-fourth of women continue to have problems for several years (Hanson, 1990).

Women who have sustained sexual or physical assault have been found to disproportionately suffer from depression, thoughts of suicide, and suicide attempts (Hilberman and individual treatment interventions are those, such as counseling, that are targeted at the individual; community-level interventions represent more system-oriented interventions, such as criminal justice reforms, rape crisis centers, and battered women shelters. Following this classification, the chapter first discusses preventive interventions. Second, it considers treatment interventions, both the services available to women victims of violence and those, including criminal justice interventions, for offenders.

Preventive Interventions

School-Based Preventive Programs

Preventive intervention efforts have largely consisted of school-based programs on conflict mediation, violence prevention in general, dating violence, sexual abuse, and spouse abuse.

Media Roles

Public education campaigns, such as those mounted against smoking and drunk driving, are a universal preventive intervention that have been part of other successful community prevention projects (Institute of Medicine, 1994). a public education campaign against intimate partner violence. The campaign consists of television, radio, and print public service announcements "designed to increase public awareness of battering and to motivate individuals to take action to reduce and prevent abuse" (Family Violence Prevention Fund, 1995).


To the extent that the threat of criminal justice sanctions deters people from engaging in violent behavior, they can be thought of as preventive interventions. The theory of deterrence is well established in the field of criminal justice (for reviews, see Zimring and Hawkins, 1971; Geerken and Gove, 1975; Gibbs, 1975; Cook, 1977; Blumstein et al., 1978; Tittle, 1980; Paternoster, 1987; Klepper and Nagin, 1989). The theory suggests that increasing the certainty of sanctions increases their deterrent effect (Reiss and Roth, 1993). From this perspective, mandatory arrest for intimate partner violence, increasing rates of prosecution for rape and intimate partner violence, and stricter enforcement of protection orders could be considered preventive interventions.

Other Issues in Rape Prevention

The literature on rape prevention includes strategies for rape avoidance and rape resistance, which are considered by some—particularly in the criminal justice field—to be prevention through reduction of opportunity. Rape avoidance entails strategies to be used by women to minimize their risk of sexual assault. These strategies include avoiding dangerous situations, not going out alone at night, keeping doors and windows closed and locked, and other precautions to be taken by women. Although these avoidance techniques may reduce a woman's risk of being sexually assaulted by a stranger, it is not clear they would reduce acquaintance attacks (Koss and Harvey, 1991). These strategies are also criticized as restricting women's activities and as potentially placing the blame on women who are sexually assaulted for not taking adequate precautions (Brodyaga et al., 1975, as cited in Koss and Harvey, 1991).

Individual-Level Interventions

Individual counseling and peer support groups are probably the services most used by battered women. A survey of 250 victims of battering in New York City who called 911 for help found that 43 percent of the callers wanted counseling services and 42 percent said they wanted someone to talk to about their feelings (Taylor, 1995). However, few data exist on how many battered women actually seek counseling services: of those seeking counseling services in the New York City study, Taylor (1995) found approximately two-thirds actually received them. Although specific therapy elements have been recommended for use with battered women (e.g., Walker, 1994), the panel found no evaluation studies of individual counseling or support groups for battered women.

Counseling services are also available for couples in which the woman has been battered or otherwise victimized, but there remains much debate in the field over the merits and advisability of couples counseling (Dobash and Dobash, 1992; Edleson and Tolman, 1992; Gondolf, 1993). Many practitioners and researchers argue that couples counseling is never appropriate when violence is present because it endangers women. Other counseling providers argue that couples counseling that is specifically designed to address the use of aggression may be beneficial for couples in discordant or mildly violent relationships (Pan et al., 1994; O'Leary et al., 1995). Because couples counseling is generally viewed as an intervention for the perpetrator, evaluations of it are addressed below in the section on interventions for batterers.

Mental health interventions with rape victims have received more study than those with battered women. Treatment approaches designed to address the postrape psychological consequences have been developed, and in some instances evaluations were undertaken to assess their effectiveness.

Batterers' Groups

Counseling or educational groups for men who batter have emerged as the most common form of intervention for offenders in the United States (Feazell et al., 1984; Pirog-Good and Stets-Kealy, 1985; Gondolf, 1987; Caesar and Hamberger, 1989; Gondolf, 1995). Group treatment is believed by many to be more appropriate than individual treatment because it expands the social networks of batterers to include other men who are supportive of being nonabusive. It also provides men an opportunity to reinforce their own learning by helping teach others (Edleson and Tolman, 1992). Furthermore, men have reported group support as being one of the most beneficial aspects of treatment (Gondolf, 1985; Tolman, 1990).

However, there is a danger that the group may reinforce negative behavior rather than change. In a study of batterers' groups, Tolman (1990) received reports of negative effects from some of the female partners of the men.

Batterers' groups vary in length of time, although most are relatively short term, ranging from 6 to 32 weeks (Eisikovits and Edleson, 1989; Tolman and Bennett, 1990). Programs are generally structured in format and use some variation of cognitive-behavioral or social learning approaches (Tolman and Edleson, 1995; for a more complete discussion of structure of groups, see Edleson and Tolman, 1992). Many programs also include a gendered analysis of battering: that is, battering is viewed as a tool of male control of women in intimate rela-tionships. The focus of the program is as much on changing men's view of their entitlement to control their partners, through whatever means, as it is on stopping the actual physical battering (see, e.g., Pence and Paymar, 1993).

Couples Therapy

The use of couples therapy when there is abuse in a relationship is highly controversial. Many practitioners think that the dynamics of the battering relationship do not lend themselves to joint therapy, especially in court-referred cases (e.g., Dobash and Dobash, 1992; Kaufman, 1992). Most important is the potential of putting the woman in greater danger as a result of the therapy. Those who advocate profeminist approaches to batterers' treatment think that couples therapy, particularly if it focuses on the couple as a system, may allow the batterer to continue to deny responsibility for his violence (Breines and Gordon, 1983; Bograd, 1984).

Little research has been done on the effectiveness of couples therapy in ending violent behavior. Several studies of couples counseling found a reduction or cessation of violence in a sizable proportion of the sample following couples counseling (Taylor, 1984; Neidig et al., 1985; Deschner et al., 1986). However, the samples were small (only 15 couples in one study), the follow-up time was short, and the studies did not specify how violent behavior after treatment was assessed. The last point is particularly important because it has been consistently found that men who batter often report their use of violence to be less frequent and less severe than is reported by their female partners (Szinovacz, 1983; Jouriles and O'Leary, 1985; Edleson and Brygger, 1986; Bohannon et al., 1995). A recent study comparing couples and single-sex group therapies with couples who had experienced physical aggression—none of it severe—and who wanted to stay together found significant decreases in physical aggression from both therapies a year after therapy ended (O'Leary et al., 1995). Similarly, Harris and colleagues (1988) found no difference in the level of violence or participants' level of psychological well-being between couples who participated in individual couples counseling and those in a group program that consisted of single-sex group sessions followed by couples group sessions. However, participants were four times more likely to drop out of individual couples counseling than the group program. Although there is some evidence that couples therapy may be effective in reducing violence, philosophical disagreements about its use are bound to continue. There is, however, agreement among most practitioners that couples therapy is not appropriate for court-mandated cases or for severely violent men (who are likely to be more violent) (Gondolf, 1995).(Understanding Violence Against Women,national research council,National academy press, Washington  D C 1996)


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