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Is there a risk of recidivism when it comes to male violence in partner relationships?

The academics Marisol Lila, Amparo Oliver, María Victoria Lorenzo y Alba Catalá, who belong to the faculty of the Universitat de València analyse in their study:Valuation of the risk of relapse related to violence against women in partner relationships: the importance of social support”, published in 2013, the importance of the valuation of the risk of recidivism as one of the main preventive strategies when it comes to conjugal violence. 

25 january 2017

The prevalence of detected cases annually is high and the number of murdered women (already 4 in 2017), according to these authoresses, “clears out any doubt concerning how necessary it is to invest efforts in proceedings dedicated to prevention and intervention”. The male violence in relationships is a social problem entailing serious consequences for physical and psychological health of thousands of women in the whole world. In fact, “it is much more likely for a woman to be injured or harmed by her partner than by a stranger”, they claimed in their published article in the Social Psychology Journal.

The male violence in relationships is a social problem entailing serious consequences for physical and psychological health of thousands of women in the whole world

It is also highlighted that researches on rates of recidivism in men condemned for gender violence (between a 16% and a 47%) justifies the use of this kind of tools that allow assessing the risk of new violent episodes. This way, among the strategies to prevent this social scourge stand out: the implementation of specific regulations, the provision of resources to avoid the re-victimisation of assaulted women and also the plan on Assessment of the Risk of Recidivism (VRR), through which new assaults and even murder of women could be avoided. All these measures are complemented with the existent psychological treatments for assailants and victims.

Therefore, the VRR is related to how violence is going to be managed by the involved professionals and the possibility of establishing individualised protection measures for victims, according to the level of risk assessed in each concrete situation. Throughout the years, different prediction tools have been developed, such as the Danger Assessment Tool (DA) of Campbell (1995), the Femicide Scale of Kerry (1998), the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) of Hilton, Harris, Rice, Lang, Cormier and Lines (2004) or, more recently, the Escala de Predicción de Riesgo de Violencia contra la Pareja (EPV) of Echeburua, Fernández Montalvo, Corral and López-Goni (2009).

In Spain, one of the most used tools is the SARA protocol, by Kropp, Hart, Webster and Eaves (1995); this includes the main risk factors for conjugal violence. “It is not a questionnaire in the usual sense of the professional practice of psychology, but a valuation guide to ensure that the evaluator uses all relevant information to report the risk of a future violent episode”, the authors explain. However, they emphasize that there is no specific algorithm or value that indicates the level of risk.

There is no specific algorithm or value that indicates the level of risk.

Currently, there are known some risk factors essentially affecting the aggressor, coinciding with those contemplated at the Sara protocol. These include previous behavioural aspects that have been good predictors of future behaviour:

  • The earlier violence.
  • The infringement of legal measures.
  • The use of weapons or threats against others or against the partner.
  • The minimization or denial of the facts.
  • Attitudes supporting or tolerating violence or variables that are related with the psychosocial adjustment, such as emotional stability, impulsivity and personality disorder.
  • The drugs and/or alcohol use.
  • The work problems.

However, there are other variables that are not present in this tool of VRR.

In this sense, the aim of the authoresses is to analyse the relation of various psychological and attitudinal variables (impulsivity, feature of anger, depressive symptomatology and tolerance of violence against woman in the partner relationships) and social variables (community participation and formal support), with two of the possible measures of VRR that can be obtained from the SARA.

Thus, one of the conclusions reached is that the social isolation or the lack of social support network can favour the violence and its continuity in the domestic environment. Therefore, for the scholars, it would be necessary that “in future investigations the paper that the social support and the social networks of the abusers play were analysed, as well as the nature and the quality of these relationships maintained by victims and abusers”.

The social isolation or the lack of social support network can favour the violence and its continuity in the domestic environment

The authoresses highlight that “people should not only pay attention to the presence or absence of these links because in the area of violence against woman, some people who integrate the social network of the couple, instead of playing a protective role, they favour the maintenance of the abusive relationship”.

 
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