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Are Bi-Directionally Violent Couples Mutually Victimized? A Gender-Sensitive Comparison

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Mutual victimization in marriage was studied in a sample of clinic couples (N = 57) where both spouses reported partner aggression on an adapted version of the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979). As predicted, wives sustained more injuries and were more negatively affected by their partner's physical aggression than did husbands. Multiple dimensions of aggression were used to identify subgroups of mutually victimized couples (e.g., frequency, severity of aggressive act[s], psychological impact, and severity of injury). The largest subgroup consisted of spouses who reported low levels of victimization on all dimensions. Subgroup 2 included couples in which wives reported higher overall levels of victimization than did their husbands. A third small subgroup was also identified where husbands reported higher levels of victimization than did their wives. Contrary to prediction, both highly victimized wives and highly victimized husbands in the asymmetrical victimization subgroups reported greater levels of relationship and individual distress than did spouses in the mutual/low victimization and nonaggression control groups. However, the marriages of the two highly victimized subgroups did differ in important ways. The findings were interpreted to suggest an integration of feminist and dyadic theories of marital aggression.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: State University of New York at Stony Brook

Publication date: 01 January 1994

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