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An exploratory study of stalking behaviors and intimate abuse perpetration in young adult women Clift, Robert J. W.

Abstract

Women's perpetration of intimate abuse and stalking behaviors have remained relatively unexplored despite the fact that there is a mounting body of evidence suggesting that they are not rare occurrences (e.g., White & Koss, 1991; Fremouw, Westrup & Pennypacker 1997). The objectives of the current study, therefore, were to explore variables that may be related to stalking and abuse perpetration in women and to perform a test-retest of the Propensity for Abusiveness Scale (PAS; Dutton, 1995b) and of Oldham and associates' (1985) Borderline Personality Organization (BPO) scale. These objectives were accomplished by having 65 women, who were in intimate relationships, complete both the PAS and BPO scale during the 1998-1999 school year (Time One). Two years later (Time Two), those same women were asked back to the lab. At that time they completed the PAS and BPO scale again. Those women who were still in the same relationship at Time Two as they were at Time One also completed the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems Circumplex Scales (IIP-C; Alden, Wiggins & Pincus, 1990) and measures of psychological and physical abuse perpetration. Women who were no longer in their Time One relationship completed the IIP-C and two measures of stalking behaviors. Results from the current study would suggest that the prototypical physically and psychologically abusive woman is one who has borderline personality features, is affectively labile and was abused as a child. Additionally, abusive women score highly on the Vindictive and Domineering scales of the IIP-C. They may also suffer from trauma symptoms, but this relationship is less clear. A different stalking profile is produced whether one looks at correlational data, or at variables that added predictive value to a regression equation. The stalking profile produced with correlational data suggests that female stalkers have had negative childhood experiences and they display trauma symptoms. Additionally, female stalking perpetrators endorse vindictive and domineering traits as measured by the IIP-C. They also appear to be affectively labile, and display BPO. Based on multiple regression, female stalkers again presented with vindictive and domineering traits. Recalled Negative Parental Treatment also remained an important variable. The one new variable that was identified as important by multiple regression was the Intrusive scale of the IIP-C. This finding is not entirely surprising, however, as high Intrusive scorers are described as people who are attention seeking and find it difficult to spend time alone (Alden et al., 1990). Both the PAS and the Oldham and associates' BPO scale proved highly reliable over a two-year period. The same was true for each of the subscales, with the exception of the Identity Diffusion subscale on the BPO scale, which only had a marginally significant test-retest correlation over a two-year period.

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