The feasibility and prevalence of reciprocal, hierarchical and paternal patterns of family aggression hypothesised by Dixon and Browne (2003) were explored within a sample of maltreating families. The psychological reports of 67 families referred to services for alleged child maltreatment that evidenced concurrent physical intimate partner violence and child maltreatment were investigated. Of these, 29 (43.3%) cases were characterised by hierarchical patterns, 28 (41.8%) by reciprocal patterns and 10 (14.9%) by paternal patterns. Significant differences in the form of child maltreatment perpetrated by mothers and fathers and parent dyads living in different patterns were found. In hierarchical sub‐patterns, fathers were significantly more likely to have been convicted for a violent and/or sexual offence than mothers and were significantly less likely to be biologically related to the child. The findings demonstrate the existence of the different patterns in a sample of families involved in the child care protection process in England and Wales, supporting the utility of a holistic approach to understanding aggression in the family.
Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 29, 2010
Keywords: Family aggression; Family violence; Intimate partner violence; Child maltreatment; Domestic violence