Patterns of family violence
This thesis investigates the utility of classification systems of domestic violent men and the
need to explore patterns of family violence from a more holistic, family focused perspective.
Part I considers the classification of men who abuse their female partner. A literature review is
presented which provides support for the Holtzworth-Munroe and Stuart (1994) three fold
typology of domestic violent men. However, the research is criticised for its narrow focus on
the offender and three hypothetical patterns of family violence are presented. Following the
review, a classification system of 90 men who murdered their female partner was constructed.
The overlap of intimate partner violence with child maltreatment is demonstrated, highlighting
the need for a holistic approach to family violence.
Part II extends the use of classification systems to explore the co-occurrence of intimate partner
violence and child maltreatment within the family, classifying family violence from a more
holistic perspective. One hundred and five child maltreatment cases were examined
retrospectively. The first study explored and demonstrated characteristic differences between
parents who maltreated their child and each other in comparison with parents who perpetrated
child maltreatment only. The second study provided evidence for the hypothesised patterns of
family violence. This research contributes to the risk assessment literature, in furthering the
understanding of violent parents and families.
Part III extends the holistic approach to family violence to incorporate the effects that family
members can exert upon one another across generations. A mediational analysis of the
intergenerational cycle of child maltreatment is presented, using a prospective sample of 4,351
families with newborn children. The presence of three significant risk factors and poor
parenting were found to mediate the intergenerational cycle. Additionally, factors of financial
solvency and social support were found to playa protective role. A conceptual hierarchical
model that considers risk and protective factors in tum is proposed as a method to assess
families for potential of child maltreatment.
The thesis demonstrates the need for a holistic approach to family violence. The theoretical and
practical implications of this research for professionals working with families are discussed.