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Who's To Blame: Attributions Regarding Causality in Spouse Abuse

NCJ Number
Behavioral Sciences and the Law Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: (Spring 1990) Pages: 107-120
J C Overholser; S H Moll
Date Published
14 pages
Spouse abuse is perpetuated by a cycle of misdirected attributions and environmental factors.
Typically, aggressors attribute their violent behavior to external causes, projecting their negative traits onto their spouses or blaming society and circumstance. Victims, in turn, allow the attribution to internalize or accept situational excuses which in effect forgive the abuser, reinforce the abuse, and escalate its severity and frequency. The initial episode of abuse is critical to establishing the attributional pattern. Victims often try to hide the abuse from friends, who in turn do not encourage them to end the abusive relationship. The longer the victim stays in the relationship, the more she needs to justify the time and effort invested in it; temporary periods of reconciliation cause her to entertain hopes that her husband has finally changed his abusive ways. Victims who leave their abusive partners often return or end up in another abusive relationship reinforcing their notions of self-inadequacy. 104 references. (Author abstract modified)


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