Developing a psychologically informed typology of partner violent women
Little research to date has considered the aetiological risk of female perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV), particularly in dating samples. This is despite evidence that shows perpetration is highly prevalent in this population. This study aims to address this gap and develops a typology of partner violent female university students using the psychopathology dimension of the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) typology. Online survey methodology was used to collate information from 434 participants about a range of psychological characteristics and aggression toward intimate partners in the previous twelve months. Latent Profile analysis identified three reliable subgroups of participants who differ in their level of psychopathology in comparison to Non-Violent Controls and/or each other (‘Low’, ‘Moderate’ and ‘Moderate-High’ Psychopathology). Chi Square analysis investigated group differences in the use of psychological aggression, physical assault and sexual coercion towards an intimate partner, and towards other people. Results show that the Moderate-High Psychopathology group use severe psychological aggression significantly more frequently than the Low Psychopathology group. Trends for minor physical violence were also found with frequency of use increasing with increases in levels of psychopathology. The classifications proxy the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) findings to some extent. However, it is suggested that the profiles of female perpetrators are best described in terms of varying levels of psychopathology in general, with corresponding increases in some forms of partner aggression. The need to develop typologies of female, non-clinical samples of IPV is discussed.