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Challenging the “Power and Control” Mantra: Exploring the Impact of Internal Power on Intimate Partner Abuse

Thu, Nov 20, 8:00 to 9:20am, Marriott, Nob Hill B, Lower B2 Level


The majority of court approved Batterer Intervention Programs (BIPs) currently utilize elements of the Duluth Model curriculum, but mixed empirical findings regarding the effectiveness of BIPs has led to debates and controversies among researchers concerning the theoretical underpinnings of this curriculum. The central theoretical tenet of the Duluth Model is that batterers use a pattern of abusive behaviors to gain or maintain power and control over their intimate partners. Although the concept that a batterer’s motive is “power and control” has become widely accepted as a truism, it has never been empirically tested. The overall purpose of this research is to address this gap by focusing on the role of power in domestic violence theory, develop the construct “internal power”, and empirically test the relationship between internal power and an individual’s use of abusive behaviors against an intimate partner. Following a brief overview of the internal power construct, findings from a pilot study that empirically evaluated internal power’s relationship to an individual’s use of psychological and physical abuse tactics will be presented. Finally, the limitations of the study, as well as potential for internal power in the development of theory, policies, and programs, will be discussed.


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