Abused, yet women see partners dependable

Abused, yet women see partners dependable

Forty-eight per cent women said they had been abused by their intimate partners. Getty images

The study by researchers in Toronto and New York suggests that many who live with chronic psychological abuse still see certain positive traits in their abusers — such as dependability and being affectionate — which may partly explain why they stay.

“We wanted to see whether survey information from women who were not currently seeking treatment or counselling for relationship abuse could be a reliable source for identifying specific types of male abusers,” says Patricia O’Campo.

O’Campo, social epidemiologist and director of the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, said: “We wanted to learn more.”

The researchers explored the experiences of 611 urban-dwelling, low-income American women.

Overall, 42.8 percent of those surveyed said they had been abused by their intimate male partners in the year preceding the survey.

Psychological abuse was significantly more of an ongoing problem than physical abuse, while sexual abuse was reported as least common.

A relatively small number of women (2.3 percent) perceived their partners as extremely controlling, while 1.2 percent reported that their partners engaged in extreme generally violent behaviours.

But a considerable number of women felt their abusive male partners still possessed some good qualities: more than half (54 percent) saw their partners as highly dependable, while one in five (21 percent) felt the men in their lives possessed significant positive traits (i.e., being affectionate).

Based on the survey findings, the researchers divided the male abusers into three groups:

“Dependable, yet abusive” men (44 percent of the sample) had the lowest scores for controlling and generally violent behaviours, and the highest scores for dependability and positive traits.

“Positive and controlling” men (38 percent of the sample) had moderately high scores for violence and also for dependability and positive traits.

“Dangerously abusive” men (18 percent) had the highest scores for violence, controlling behaviour and legal problems and the lowest scores for dependability and positive traits.

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