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Summary

There is no “correct” theory or level of analysis that must be applied to the study of intimate violence and abuse. Some of the theories presented in this chapter have been tested in research; for example, William’s (1992) test of exchange theory found

Four Preconditions

figure 7.3 Four Preconditions: A model of sexual abuse.

Source: Finkelhor, D. (1984). Child Sexual Abuse: New Theory and Research (p. 55). New York: Free Press. Reproduced with permission.

that the data support the core propositions of the theory. Other theories, such as feminist theory, form the foundation of social policy approaches to intervening in and preventing intimate partner violence. Which theory is appropriate and useful depends in large part on who will be using and applying the theory. A psychiatrist, for example, will find intra-individual theories more useful than socio-evolutionary theory. Theories provide a cognitive lens and means to organize one’s thinking about how to explain, understand, and predict intimate violence and abuse.

Discussion Questions

  • 1. How does the private nature of the family contribute to both love and violence within families?
  • 2. What are some of the “rewards” of being violent?

Suggested Assignments

  • 1. Design model legislation for either child abuse or intimate partner violence that would raise the costs of violence.
  • 2. Assume that you have been asked to testify before a state legislature or Congress on the topic of preventing family violence. Based on the theories that attempt to explain intimate violence, what would you recommend? Prepare your testimony.
 
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