Attitudinal Change in Participants of Partner Assault Response (PAR) Programs: A Pilot Project
- 3.2 Pre-treatment attitude differences
- 3.3 Attitude toward referral incident
- 3.4 Knowledge of abuse and abuse-supporting attributions
The next task for analysis was to determine whether men's pre-intervention attitudes varied according to whether they were referred by probation (n = 26), early intervention (n = 7) or were attending intervention voluntarily (n = 8). Mean scores of men on all domains are presented in Figure 1. For the four attitudes subscales, means varied from a low of 1 to a high of 4, with scores of 1 or 2 indicating general "agreement" with items, and scores of 3 or 4 indicating "disagreement." Thus, in all cases average scores above 2 may be considered problematic. For denial of expected relationship difficulties, values represent the mean number of items endorsed with levels varying from 1 (assigned when men endorsed no indicators of denial) to 10 (assigned when men endorsed all 9 denial items).
Consideration of men's scores overall suggests that most men begin intervention with relatively negative attitudes towards their partners. Men varied considerably in the extent to which they were taking personal responsibility for their abusive behaviour, with voluntary clients generally reporting more personal responsibility and clients referred from the justice system reporting less personal responsibility. All men tended to begin intervention with relatively non-sexist attitudes towards women and with fair readiness for intervention. On average, men endorsed close to 2 indicators of denial, with greatest levels of denial reported by men referred by probation and lowest levels among men referred through the EIC process. However, differences noted in the attitudes of men attending voluntarily, those referred through the EIC process or those on probation were not significantly greater than what may be expected by chance variation. Thus, there was little support for the hypothesis than men referred through different streams begin intervention with more or less problematic attitudes.
With regards to the men's views of the incident for which they were referred, the average score for the men on a scale from 1 to 4 was 2.08 (n=37, SD=.70), with higher scores indicating greater lack of personal responsibility for the referral incident and greater disagreement with sanctions. When broken down according to referral source, the mean scores for voluntary, probation and early intervention court referral groups were 1.42 (n=7, SD=.29), 2.30 (n=24, SD=.70) and 1.94 (n=6, SD=.59) (Figure 2). As expected, men who are attending the Changing Ways program voluntarily are most likely to take responsibility for violent incidents, and men on probation are least likely to feel personally responsible for a past abusive incident. These differences did reach significant levels .
Correlations between men's attitude toward the referral incident and general attitudes were also computed. Results found that men's view of the referral incident was moderately to highly correlated with all attitudes except acknowledgement of relationship difficulties (with lack of personal responsibility r = .64 ; partner blame r = .58; negative attitude towards treatment r = .64 and; sexist attitude towards women r = .39). Given the strength of these correlations, it can be concluded that men's attitudes towards the incident that resulted in their referral are generally consistent with their general attitudes towards their abuse and their partner.
As current PAR programs aim to teach men to identify abusive behaviour, men were asked whether or not 22 behaviours were hurtful and controlling. Five of these items were not abusive and were used primarily to balance the questionnaire. These items were not considered in the analyses. All items for this measure were developed in a manner that allowed the men's answers to be scored as either correct or incorrect. Correct answers indicated that the men were able to correctly identify whether or not a specified behaviour was hurtful or controlling, while incorrect answers indicated a lack of knowledge regarding hurtful and controlling behaviour. Examination of men's responses on the 17 abuse-specific items suggested that over 90% of men arrive at an intervention program understanding that the following behaviours are hurtful or controlling: ignoring or walking away from their partner when she is talking, trying to make their partner feel crazy, and yelling, screaming, or swearing at their partner. Men were less likely to report that unilateral financial decision-making, monitoring a partner's time or activities, insisting she keep relationship difficulties private, or making threatening statements was hurtful or controlling. On average, men incorrectly answered 3.68 items (n=38, SD=3.9), which is approximately 20%. When broken down according to referral source, men in the voluntary group got an average of 3.43 (SD= 4.39) items wrong, probation referred men got an average of 3.64 wrong (SD=3.19), and early intervention court referred men got an average of 4.17 wrong (SD=6.34) (Figure 3). Differences between groups were not significantly different from chance.
Men were also required to indicate whether 14 thoughts would lead to healthy or hurtful behaviour. In this case, one item seemed to lead to confusion among men and was omitted. On average, the men incorrectly answered 4.29 of the 13 remaining questions (n=38, SD=2.22). Similar to the above measure, incorrect answers reflected an inability to identify whether specified cognitions would lead to healthy or hurtful behaviour. Men were most likely to recognize the value of cognitions around efficacy, such as "I don't need to defend myself, I can hear her out," and "I do not have to win this argument." Men were much less likely to recognize the potential danger of ruminative thoughts (e.g., "I can't believe we are having this discussion again - we just talked about this yesterday"; "Why can't she leave this alone") and self-talk around entitlement (e.g., "I should not have to listen to this kind of criticism"). Volunteer, probation and early intervention court referral groups got an average of 3.50 (SD=1.64), 4.73 (SD=2.38), and 3.17 (SD=1.47) items incorrect, respectively, which did not differ significantly (Figure 4).
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