Integrating the longitudinal study of intimate partner violence perpetration within life course criminology

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences

Abstract

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is abusive behaviour between (ex)partners and is a serious problem in society. Almost 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men experience IPV at some point in their lives, whilst it is estimated that £4 billion of public money is spent on responding to IPV annually. That said, there is clearly a pressing need to better understand IPV perpetration, one that can inform an evidence-based system of prevention and intervention. Therefore, this study will enhance our understanding of IPV perpetration by integrating two previously separate fields: IPV research and life course criminology. By doing so, this research will mark the next step in realising my ambition: to become an international research leader on policy-oriented theorization and investigation of criminal development and desistance (i.e. the process of stopping offending).
This research will make five important long-term contributions to criminological research and its practical applications.
First, by adopting the life course criminological approach this research will enhance our understanding of IPV perpetration. This research will establish general patterns in the development of IPV, and will explain the process of desistance from IPV.
Second, by integrating the study of IPV within the study of general criminal development this research will further develop the field of life course criminology. Whilst the life course criminological perspective is considered to be the main paradigm for understanding offending, to date IPV has been ignored in the development of life course criminological theory. Incorporating IPV perpetration in developmental models of criminal behaviour, then, will enhance our understanding of the development of offending and the pathways out of crime.
Third, as I am proposing to integrate two largely separate fields of criminological study, I will be able to establish a profile as a leading expert in this field. The research has a significant international component, as I aim to systematically compare datasets from the UK, the USA and the Netherlands. I aim to establish and lead the International Network on Criminal Development and Desistance: research, policy and practice (INCreDD). I will collaborate with American and Dutch experts during three overseas research visits. The findings from this research will be disseminated via publications in high-impact international journals, presentations at academic conferences, and at an international academic workshop. The research thus enables me to develop myself into an internationally recognized future research leader.
Fourth, this research employs existing international longitudinal datasets. Longitudinal data is vital for a comprehensive understanding of the development of criminal behaviour and the desistance process. As existing longitudinal datasets are generally underused, I aim to use the INCreDD network to encourage cross-national investigations of longitudinal data on criminal development and desistance. To consolidate my expertise in longitudinal data analysis I will participate in the prestigious Essex summer school.
Fifth, the research findings will be invaluable for policy makers and practitioners working in the criminal justice system, social care and the voluntary sector, whose work it is to develop and implement prevention and intervention programmes. Services to reduce IPV perpetration which are informed by academic research will affect the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of partners and children, as well as reducing government spending. The INCreDD network will include an extensive network of policy makers and practitioners. The organisation of a dissemination event, presentations at practitioner organisations, and the distribution of research bulletins will enhance my knowledge exchange skills and will enable me to develop myself into a research leader who is able to effectively communicate with and impact on the work of policy makers and practitioners.

Planned Impact

This research will generate knowledge of characteristics of IPV perpetration, and factors that can promote the process of desistance from IPV. Therefore, the findings from this research will yield important opportunities to realize impact in terms of primary and secondary prevention (see Pathways to Impact for details). Prevention and intervention programmes that are informed by academic research are vital, as research has demonstrated that formal sanctions imposed by the criminal justice system do not have any lasting or significant impact on reducing IPV perpetration.

Government. It is estimated that nearly £4 billion of public funds annually is spent on responding to IPV, excluding costs associated with lost economic output or individual emotional costs, which are estimated at a further £12 billion (Walby 2009). The UK government (in particular the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office) will therefore benefit from reductions in IPV perpetration, which will be achieved through designing more effective prevention and intervention programmes informed by this research.

Policy makers. The findings will be relevant to the work of policy makers working in the areas of criminal justice, education, social care and public health, who make decisions about IPV related policies. These include policies regarding general prevention programmes implemented in education and prevention programmes aimed towards at-risk groups, as well as policies concerning responses to and punishment of IPV.

Criminal justice system and social care. The insights on IPV perpetration generated by this research could be used to inform and refine risk assessment tools that are being used by police, probation and social care professionals, to improve early identification of IPV perpetrators and to tailor their response to perpetrators. Enhancing early and accurate identification of at-risk individuals is crucial for delivering early intervention, thereby minimalizing chances of escalation. This research will also have important implications for organisations within the criminal justice system who deliver interventions for perpetrators, as the findings will underpin more effective intervention programmes aimed at reducing the perpetrator's abusive behaviour.

Voluntary sector. The research will inform the work of domestic abuse charities (e.g. SafeLives, Respect) that deliver prevention programmes and training for professionals who deal with IPV in their work. The voluntary sector will be able to deliver more complex prevention initiatives. Moreover, as charities often work alongside the criminal justice system to deliver interventions, the research findings will also contribute to the development of evidence-based interventions for IPV perpetrators.

Victims. Through improved prevention and intervention programmes for IPV perpetrators, the quality of life for victims of IPV will be greatly enhanced. In the UK an estimated 1.4 million women and 700,000 men suffered from IPV in 2014 (ONS 2015). Each year more than 100,000 people in the UK are at high and imminent risk of being murdered or seriously injured as a result of IPV, and more than 100 people each year are killed by their (ex)partners. Prevention and intervention programmes informed by this research will thus greatly improve the safety and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of partners and children of IPV perpetrators.

Perpetrators. The findings will impact on the quality of life of perpetrators of IPV. Interventions for IPV perpetrators informed by this research will be more effective in reducing their abusive behaviour. This will improve their quality of life in terms of healthy relationships, avoidance of sanctions and the negative consequences associated with criminal justice system involvement (e.g. a criminal record).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The aims of the research project were to examine the development of intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration, to investigate this development of IPV perpetration in relation to the development of general criminal behaviour, and to identify 'desistance' factors for IPV perpetration, using different longitudinal quantitative datasets from the Netherlands and the United States.

Key research findings:

1. Development of IPV perpetration: IPV perpetration is relatively common during young adulthood. It mainly concerns psychological and minor physical IPV, whereas severe physical IPV is less common. Prevalence and frequency of IPV perpetration decrease throughout young adulthood. However, a considerable proportion of young adults show continuity in psychological aggression, whilst a smaller group of young adults show persistence in physical IPV perpetration. The findings highlight the importance of examining the development of IPV perpetration longitudinally, to distinguish between those perpetrators who desist from or persist in IPV perpetration over time.

2. The relationship between general criminal behaviour and IPV perpetration: The research project demonstrated a robust relationship between patterns in general criminal behaviour and IPV perpetration. The findings indicate that those who show higher levels of general offending and/or more diverse offending patterns are more likely to engage in (psychological and physical) IPV perpetration, to use severe physical violence, to use their violence more frequently, and to persist in IPV perpetration over time. Therefore, it is useful to view IPV perpetration as part of a broader criminal career, and to use longitudinal methods and a life course criminological approach to examine the development of IPV perpetration alongside the development of general criminal behaviour.

3. Factors associated with (changes in) IPV perpetration: Both background and current factors were found to be associated with either an increased or decreased likelihood and/or frequency of IPV perpetration. First, experiencing family violence in childhood was related to (higher levels of) psychological and physical IPV perpetration, as well as to continuity in IPV over time. General aggression and low levels of self-control were also found to be associated with an increased risk of IPV perpetration.
Second, among older men, being married was associated with an increased risk of IPV perpetration, whereas among young adults, cohabitation was related to psychological and physical IPV perpetration. Those who rate their relationship as being of a higher quality report lower rates of IPV perpetration. Furthermore, employment was associated with a lower risk of IPV perpetration among older men, whereas time spent in employment and/or education was largely unrelated to IPV perpetration among young adults.
Third, drug use was associated with an increased likelihood and frequency of physical IPV perpetration throughout young adulthood, whilst mental health problems were related to psychological IPV in young adulthood.
Thus, the research project demonstrated that both background and current factors, as well as the level of general criminal behaviour, explain (changes in) IPV perpetration. This indicates that an integrated theoretical approach is most useful to understand IPV perpetration, with the ultimate aim of informing evidence-based programmes which are crucial to prevent and reduce IPV.
Exploitation Route Academic routes: Academic researchers could replicate and expand on the findings from this research project by conducting further longitudinal research on IPV perpetration using datasets from different countries containing information on different samples of respondents, to further enhance our understanding of the development of and process of desistance from IPV perpetration.
Moreover, academic researchers could design future longitudinal studies (or future waves in existing longitudinal studies) which include measures of IPV perpetration to facilitate the longitudinal study of IPV. It is especially important that quantitative measures of IPV perpetration accurately reflect the various forms and the dynamics of IPV.

Non-academic routes: Criminal and youth justice agencies that work with general offenders could use the findings from this research project to improve early identification of (potential) IPV perpetration among general offenders. Third sector organisations, in particular organisations working with perpetrators of IPV and/or those at risk of becoming involved in IPV, could use the findings from this research project to inform their prevention and intervention efforts.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description Impact work is still ongoing and to this date the findings from the research project have not yet led to a demonstrable contribution to changes to or improvement of policy or practice in the field of intimate partner violence. This is partly due to the fact that not all research findings have been published yet. However, dissemination of research findings and engagement with relevant stakeholders is still ongoing, although face to face network activities and a dissemination event have been postponed due to the lockdown measured implemented to try to slow the spread of the Corona virus. In addition to developing relationships with UK practitioners working in the field of partner abuse, since my move to the Netherlands at the beginning of 2019 efforts have also been made to further develop relationships with Dutch partner violence professionals, including practitioners who deliver treatment to perpetrators of intimate partner violence in the main forensic treatment facility in the Netherlands, organisations that offer support to victims of partner violence, policy researchers from the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, and the head of research of the centre for research and expertise of the Dutch National Police who is working on improving police responses to violence in (familial) relationships and honour based violence. Extending my network of relevant Dutch practitioners and policy makers is especially relevant as part of the findings from the research project pertain to partner violence among Dutch (young) adults. Moreover, a concern is that partner violence has been increasing due to lockdown measures implemented as a result of the global pandemic. As the findings from this research project point to the importance of identifying those young adults at highest risk of developing a persistent pattern of violent behaviour, a key aim of the dissemination activities is to improve professionals' and practitioners' identification of those most at risk for perpetrating partner violence so that they can be targeted for intervention.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Other
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Contribution to handbook for postgraduate students 'Intervention Criminology'
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact At the Faculty of Law, VU University Amsterdam, the MSc course 'Intervention Criminology' is taught. One of the modules of this course is 'Criminal Careers and Interventions'. The handbook entitled 'Handbook of criminal careers and interventions: Offender groups, backgrounds, and interventions' that will be used for this module is currently in development. I have written a book chapter on perpetrators of intimate partner violence for this handbook, and this chapter has been conditionally accepted for publication (pending minor revisions). The chapter is based on my own research as well as other international research, and also covers (recommendations for) evidence-based interventions for perpetrators of intimate partner violence. The handbook is edited by Dr Anne-Marie Slotboom, Dr Victor van der Geest and Dr Vere van Koppen, chapters have been peer-reviewed, and the book will be published by Boom Criminology Publisher in 2021. The handbook is aimed at postgraduate students in first instance, but will also be useful for practitioners and policy makers.
 
Description Member of the advisory and steering committee for the 5-year national research project 'Recidivism among perpetrators of domestic violence', conducted by the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) of the Ministry of Justice and Security of the Netherlands.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Member of the advisory committee for Police & Science research project: The relationship between criminal behavior and domestic violence, funded with the aim of improving police practice
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Appointed as co-chair of the Developmental and life-course criminology working group of the European Society of Criminology 
Organisation European Society of Criminology
Country Switzerland 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I have been appointed as co-chair of the Developmental and life-course criminology working group of the European Society of Criminology as of January 2019. Together with Dr Victor van der Geest (NSCR / VU University Amsterdam) we will lead the working group for the next couple of years, and we will organise meetings and events to encourage and facilitate international collaboration.
Collaborator Contribution I have been appointed as co-chair of the Developmental and life-course criminology working group of the European Society of Criminology as of January 2019. Since then I have organised working group panels for the Annual Meeting of the European Society of Criminology 2019 (18-21 September 2019, Belgium), and for the Annual Meeting of the European Society of Criminology 2020 (11 September 2020, online due to pandemic) .
Impact Since 2019 I have organised working group panels for the Annual Meeting of the European Society of Criminology 2019 (18-21 September 2019, Belgium), and for the Annual Meeting of the European Society of Criminology 2020 (11 September 2020, online due to pandemic) with the aim of international dissemination of research findings and network building.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration on a multi-disciplinary project on intimate partner violence (IPV) 
Organisation Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Because of my work on my ESRC-funded research project, I have been approached by Professor G.J. Melendez-Torres, who was employed as a Senior Lecturer at Decipher (Cardiff University), but has since been appointed as a Professor to lead the Peninsula Technology Assessment Group at the University of Exeter, to collaborate on a project aimed at conducting a large scale review of systematic reviews on intimate partner violence. The project team consists of nine academics from different institutions. The work for this project is still ongoing and will lead to several high-quality publications in peer-reviewed journals. So far, I have contributed to conducting a large-scale systematic literature search, and the screening of abstracts and full-text papers for the review of systematic reviews.
Collaborator Contribution Professor G.J. Melendez-Torres is an expert in the area of systematic reviewing, and adopts a public health perspective when studying intimate partner violence. Although he is not directly contributing to the work for the funded research project 'Integrating the longitudinal study of intimate partner violence perpetration within life course criminology', the aim of the collaboration is to conduct research which builds upon the research I have conducted for the funded project.
Impact This multi-disciplinary collaborative work is still ongoing and will lead to several high-quality publications in peer-reviewed journals. Disciplines involved in this collaborative project are: criminology, public health, and sociology.
Start Year 2018
 
Description International mentoring and collaboration 
Organisation Michigan State University
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Professor Christopher D Maxwell from Michigan State University has agreed to be my second mentor and collaborator for this research project. I have undertaken a research visit to Michigan State University (21 May - 1 June 2017) to collaborate with professor Maxwell.
Collaborator Contribution Professor Christopher D Maxwell from Michigan State University has agreed to be my second mentor and collaborator for this research project. He provides mentoring via regular meetings via Skype or at international conferences we have both attended. In addition, he has facilitated my two-week research visit (21 May - 1 June 2017). During this research visit, we have worked together on data access and analysis, and prepared research plans for two papers.
Impact This collaboration is still ongoing, and will continue now that the funded research period has ended. So far, this collaboration has resulted in two papers which have been published in international peer-reviewed journals (European Journal of Criminology, Journal of Interpersonal Violence), one paper for which we received minor revisions from the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Contemporary Criminology and which has been resubmitted, and a fourth paper which is in preparation and which will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal within the next few months.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Visiting fellow NSCR 
Organisation The Netherlands Study Center Crime and Law Enforcement
Country Netherlands 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I have approached the 'Nederlands Studiecentrum Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving' (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, or NSCR) to support my research project, in the form of research collaborations and access to data sets. As a result, the NSCR has given me a three-year visiting research fellow status (2017-end 2019), which facilitates this collaboration. Due to ongoing collaboration, the research fellowship has recently been extended with another three years from January 2020 - December 2022.
Collaborator Contribution The 'Nederlands Studiecentrum Criminaliteit en Rechtshandhaving' (Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement, or NSCR) has given me a visiting research fellow status. This enables me to visit the Institute regularly, to collaborate with professor Arjan Blokland, and to access and work with two data sets of which he is the research director.
Impact This collaboration is still ongoing, and will continue now that the funded research period has ended. So far, our collaboration has resulted in one paper which has been published by the European Journal of Criminology, one paper for which we received minor revisions from the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Contemporary Criminology and which has been resubmitted, and another paper which is in preparation and which will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal within the next few months.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Expert roundtable meeting Women's Aid 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact I have been invited to participate in an expert meeting roundtable organised by the four UK Women's Aid federations (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) which took place on 7th March 2019. Women's Aid has invited academic experts in the area of domestic abuse and partner violence from the four UK countries to participate in this roundtable to discuss how academic research could and should inform domestic violence and abuse policy and practice, and to develop some principles for how they use research to inform their work going forward.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Presentation for the Public Uni, Chapter Arts Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The aim of the 'Public Uni' is to translate academic research into accessible presentations to a non-academic audience. My presentation was attended by over 50 members of the general public, and sparked interesting questions and discussion afterwards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/events/view/public-uni-21
 
Description Video about how my research could help reduce intimate partner violence perpetration. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact For the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2019 we created several videos in which academics explain to a general, non-academic audience how their research contributes to the elimination of violence against women. I have made two videos. In the first video I explain how the findings from my ESRC-funded research project can help reduce intimate partner violence perpetration. In the second video, I discuss the collaborative work I have been undertaking with a local domestic abuse agency. With students, we analyse the effectiveness of interventions this agency offers.
See also: https://www.facebook.com/cardiffsocsi/videos/vb.200330613372410/569956820084340/?type=2&theater
https://twitter.com/CUSocSci/status/1066693100888829952
https://twitter.com/CUSocSci/status/1066701822465847298
https://twitter.com/CUSocSci/status/1066716909821984775
https://twitter.com/CUSocSci/status/1066708327369986050
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://twitter.com/CUSocSci/status/1066693100888829952