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Expected Outcomes of Dating Violence: Perspectives From Female Perpetrators

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Despite recent growth in female dating violence perpetration research, little is known about college women's expected outcomes of physical aggression perpetration in a dating relationship. Furthermore, no known studies have investigated women's expected outcomes of dating aggression within the context of a specific dating violence episode or examined the extent to which expected outcomes are consistent or inconsistent with actual dating aggression outcomes. The purpose of this study is to qualitatively investigate the range of dating violence expected and actual outcomes reported by college women with a recent history of physical dating violence perpetration. Twenty female undergraduate students completed individual contextually based interviews regarding their expected and actual outcomes of physical dating aggression perpetration surrounding their most recent dating violence episode. Interviews were analyzed using a theoretical thematic analysis approach. Nine main expected outcome themes reflecting a range of both rewarding and punitive consequences were identified, including no expectations—just reacted, nothing would happen, escape or end aversive interaction with partner, modify partner attention, increase partner compliance, increase physical space. facilitate communication, alter emotional state, and partner retaliation. Interestingly, use of physical aggression to stop or blunt partner's physical aggression was not an expected outcome reported by any of the participants. Findings indicate that participants' expected outcomes were often consistent with the actual outcomes of dating aggression. However, a subset of participants also reported actual outcomes inconsistent with expectations and many reported additional unanticipated outcomes. Study limitations, clinical implications, and directions for future research are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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