Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

Male Perpetrators of Heterosexual-Partner-Violence: The Role of Threats to Masculinity

Academic journal article The Journal of Men's Studies

Male Perpetrators of Heterosexual-Partner-Violence: The Role of Threats to Masculinity

Article excerpt

Between 2001 and 2005 nonfatal violent victimizations against females and males age 12 or older averaged to 22% and 4%, respectively (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007). More recently, CDC researchers report 1 in 4 women (29 million) are victims of intimate partner violence (IPV); the number is higher, 36 million if you count "minor violence" such as slapping (Black et al., 2011). Health outcomes associated with IPV are widely documented and include increased risk for poor health, substance use, depressive symptoms, chronic mental illness and injury (Coker et al., 2002; Jordan et al., 2010; Black et al.; Fletcher, 2010). Thus, IPV constitutes a major public health concern and has been recognized as such by major professional organizations (see American Medical Association, 2011; American Nursing Association, 2000; American Public Health Association, 1992) as well as the Institute of Medicine (2011). Yet, relatively few studies have examined male perpetrators of IPV as important contributors to this major health concern. The present study advances our understanding of IPV in general and male perpetrators of IPV specifically by examining accounts from men formally convicted of IPV. We present data-driven analysis on the relationship between IPV, masculinity, and economic stress among male perpetrators of IPV. We rely on qualitative data and a grounded theory paradigm--supplemented with quantitative survey data--to expand theoretical and empirical development. Glaser and Strauss (1967) acknowledge that grounded theory places emphasis on the participants' social construction of reality and thus the subsequent meanings of their experiences. Research in this tradition does not begin with the formation of hypotheses but rather with a general focus on an area of study allowing what is relevant to emerge (Strauss & Corbin, 2008). Grounded theory was thus fittingly chosen as our methodological paradigm to better understand the meaning of violence among male perpetrators of IPV.

To offset the weaknesses of using a single methodological approach and to improve the rigor of our research findings, we utilize qualitative interviews, questionnaire responses and a gender-based theoretical framework (Golafshani, 2003). Application of the latter acknowledges that gender theorizing and analysis can be a useful tool with which to interpret findings. As part of our gender theory framework, we rely on gender socialization theory that include social constructionist (i.e., doing gender) (Butler, 1999: West & Zimmerman, 1987) and hegemonic masculinity (Messerschmidt, 1993; de Visser & McDonnell, 2013) perspectives to link gender-relations, economic stressors and IPV.

LITERATURE REVIEW

A majority of publications and reports have relied on data from female victims of male perpetrated IPV (Ferraro & Johnson, 1983; Mullaney, 2007; Shepard & Campbell, 1992; Straus, 1978). Whereas qualitative research addressing IPV is less common, like most quantitative IPV research, these studies have centered on women's accounts of victimization. While it is essential to address female victimization from the female perspective, it is also important to study men as perpetrators. This is especially important in a gendered analysis of IPV where socialization into "appropriate" gendered behavior has direct and indirect health implications (Kimmel & Messner, 1995). Wood (2004) emphasizes that attempting to understand men who harm their partners does not depreciate research pertaining to violence against women. In fact, Wood (2004) fears intervention may "not be possible until and unless some effort is made to understand the perspectives of men who commit intimate partner violence" (p. 556). Multifaceted efforts thus hold promise for enhancing our understanding of IPV.

Subsets of studies that do incorporate male perpetrator perspectives have primarily employed quantitative methods (Hellman et al., 2010; Norlander & Eckhardt, 2005). …

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