The heterogeneity of spouse abuse: A review

Louise Dixon, Kevin Browne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)
511 Downloads (Pure)


Recent research suggests that spouse abusers are not a homogenous group. Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) propose three types of domestic violent men; Family Only, Generally Violent/Antisocial and Dysphoric/ Borderline Personality. This theoretical classification is compared to nine empirical research studies and two hypothetical studies, which can be found in the literature dated from 1994 onwards. The review provides support for the three-fold typology. The total averages of offenders classified by Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuarts (1994) typology across the studies were 50%, 30% and 20% respectively. However, when sample type was considered a significant difference between court referrals and volunteers was found for the men’s distribution across the three types, with court referred men being less likely to be categorised into the Family Only group. All research to date is criticised for its narrow focus on the offender and its lack of a scientific profiling approach. Other factors such as the context, triggers for violence and the behavioural actions of the victim need to be considered. A more holistic family focused typology is suggested to be more appropriate for those victims who do not want to separate from their violent spouse
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-130
Number of pages24
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2003


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