Academic journal article Violence and Victims

The CAT: A Gender-Inclusive Measure of Controlling and Abusive Tactics

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

The CAT: A Gender-Inclusive Measure of Controlling and Abusive Tactics

Article excerpt

Research has consistently found that partner violence, defined as physical abuse between married, cohabitating, or dating partners, is not the only type of abuse with long-term deleterious effects on victims. Male and female victims alike report that emotional abuse, along with controlling behaviors, are often as or more traumatic. Existing instruments used to measure emotional abuse and control have either been limited to male-perpetrated behaviors, as conceived in the well-known Duluth "Power and Control" wheel, or field tested on dating or general population samples. This study discusses the genesis and evolution of a gender-inclusive instrument, the Controlling and Abusive Tactics (CAT) Questionnaire, which was field tested on males and females with both a clinical and general population sample. For perpetration, a preliminary comparison across gender found no significant differences across gender for the great majority of items, with women reporting significantly higher rates on 9 items, and men reporting significantly higher rates on 6 items. Women reported higher rates of received abuse than men on 28 of 30 items in which gender differences were found to be significant, but both males and females reported higher victimization than perpetration rates on all items. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses resulted in the CAT-2, a valid and reliable instrument appropriate for clinical use by treatment providers as well as for research purposes.

Keywords: emotional abuse; psychological abuse; control; dominance; assessment measures

Partner abuse, usually known as domestic violence or intimate partner violence , is usually described in terms of physical aggression such as slapping or punching but is also manifested in nonphysical ways. Traditionally known as power and control behaviors (Pence & Paymar, 1993), these nonphysical forms of aggression include sexual abuse1 and stalking. Consisting of "coercive or aversive acts intended to produce emotional harm or threat of harm" (Murphy & Cascardi, 1999, p. 202), they also include various types of emotional abuse (alternatively known as psychological abuse), consisting of behaviors or tactics that include threats, attempts to restrict a partner's movement and diminish a partner's self-esteem, and the deliberate withdrawal of affection (Maiuro, 2001).

Rates of sexual abuse and stalking behaviors have consistently been found to be perpetrated at significantly higher rates by males; however, other forms of emotional abuse and controlling behaviors are perpetrated more often than physical assault, stalking, or sexual abuse (Williams, Ghandour, & Kub, 2008) and at comparable rates across gender, as found in studies drawn from high school and university students (Coker, Sanderson, Cantu, Huerta, & Fadden, 2008; Harned, 2001; Kasian & Painter, 1992; Sears, Byers, & Price, 2007) as well as general population samples (Black et al., 2011; Coker et al., 2002; Follingstad & Rogers, 2014; Outlaw, 2009) and the recent literature review by Carney and Barner (2012).

Emotional abuse and control predict physical abuse perpetration (Cano, Avery-Leaf, Cascardi, & O'Leary, 1998; Kasian & Painter, 1992; Murphy & O'Leary, 1989; Simonelli & Ingram, 1998; Stets, 1991; White, Merrill, & Koss, 2001). Controversy exists as to how more serious, controlling violence should be measured (see Hamel & Russell, 2013, for a fuller discussion), but intimate terrorism (IT) has typically been defined as the combination of high levels of physical violence and emotionally abusive and controlling behaviors (Johnson, 2008, 2011; Johnson & Leone, 2005). Based on this definition, a reanalysis of data from the National Violence Against Women Survey (Jasinski, Blumenstein, & Morgan, 2014) found rates of IT to be comparable across gender. This finding is supported by a review of the domestic violence motivation literature (Langhinrichsen-Rohling, McCullars, & Misra, 2012) as well as a recent survey of men and women enrolled in batterer intervention (Elmquist et al. …

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