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Exploring Bidirectional Couple Violence in a Clinical Sample of Female Alcoholics

Michelle L. Drapkin, Barbara S. McCrady, Janine M. Swingle, Elizabeth E. Epstein

Objective: Research suggests that high levels of dissatisfaction, conflict and aggression characterize the relationships of alcoholics. The present study addressed aspects of bidirectional violence that occur in the relationships of female alcoholics. Method: Participants were 109 women (and their partners) in a randomized clinical trial comparing individual and couple treatment for female alcoholics. Participants completed the Modified Conflicts Tactics Scale (CTS); four CTS subscales were calculated: Verbal Aggression, Psychological Coercion, Minor Violence and Severe Violence. Results: Sixty-one percent of the couples reported at least some violence (27% severe) between them in the prior year. In 23% of the couples, the woman was more severely violent than the man; in 11% of the couples, the man was more severely violent. Conclusions: Overall, results suggest that verbal aggression, psychological coercion and physical violence occur in the context of a distressed relationship. (J. Stud. Alcohol 66: 213-219, 2005)