Understanding the links between intimate partner violence and animal abuse
Gupta, Maya Erika
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Acts of violence toward intimate partners (IPV) and toward animals are common, harmful, and interconnected phenomena. Study 1 compared rates of IPV and animal abuse across perpetrator gender, form (physical assault and psychological aggression), and severity. Minor violence was more prevalent than severe violence in all categories, and psychological aggression was more prevalent than physical assault. Among violence perpetrators, perpetration of both IPV and animal abuse was more common than perpetration of only one type of violence. There were no gender differences in violence perpetration with the exception of severe animal abuse, where males were more common perpetrators. Study 2 attempted to identify perpetrator subtypes based on pairs of variables hypothesized to influence violence toward both partners and animals: callousness and instrumental tendencies, and rejection sensitivity and expressive tendencies. Separate structural equation models were developed for physical assault and psychological aggression in males and females. Models were not directly comparable across gender. As predicted, strong associations emerged between callousness and instrumental tendencies and between rejection sensitivity and expressive tendencies, but these associations did not consistently predict violent behavior. An exception was instrumental tendencies, which mediated the relationship between callousness and both physical and psychological animal abuse for females, but not for males. A second mediation pathway emerged during model revision, such that expressive tendencies mediated the relationship between rejection sensitivity and psychological IPV. Taken together, Studies 1 and 2 suggest that IPV and animal abuse are functionally interconnected, that violence perpetration differs across gender in nature and function but not in prevalence, and that identifying distinct pathways to violence may facilitate violence prediction and prevention.