Screening for Partner Violence Among Family Mediation Clients: Differentiating Types of Abuse. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Family mediation is mandated in Australia for couples in dispute over separation and parenting as a first step in dispute resolution, except where there is a history of intimate partner violence. However, validation of effective well-differentiated partner violence screening instruments suitable for mediation settings is at an early phase of development. This study contributes to calls for better violence screening instruments in the mediation context to detect a differentiated range of abusive behaviors by examining the reliability and validity of both established scales, and newly developed scales that measured intimate partner violence by partner and by self. The study also aimed to examine relationships between types of abuse, and between gender and types of abuse. A third aim was to examine associations between types of abuse and other relationship indicators such as acrimony and parenting alliance. The data reported here are part of a larger mixed method, naturalistic longitudinal study of clients attending nine family mediation centers in Victoria, Australia. The current analyses on baseline cross-sectional screening data confirmed the reliability of three subscales of the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2), and the reliability and validity of three new scales measuring intimidation, controlling and jealous behavior, and financial control. Most clients disclosed a history of at least one type of violence by partner: 95% reported psychological aggression, 72% controlling and jealous behavior, 50% financial control, and 35% physical assault. Higher rates of abuse perpetration were reported by partner versus by self, and gender differences were identified. There were strong associations between certain patterns of psychologically abusive behavior and both acrimony and parenting alliance. The implications for family mediation services and future research are discussed.

publication date

  • 2018