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Home > Research Articles > Study: Violent men often struggle with emotions


Wednesday, January 15, 2003

(U-WIRE) COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A new study conducted by an Ohio State University professor shows domestic violence in men is associated with the way they repress their stress and emotions.

The study was recently published in an issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior and was conducted by Kristi Williams, an assistant professor of sociology at OSU, Debra Umberson of the University of Texas at Austin and Kristin Anderson of Western Washington University.

They found men who engage in domestic violence do not show any signs of depression or any reactions to the stress they are under.

Conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, the study included a panel of 34 men who had a history of domestic violence.

Those subjects were then matched with 30 non-violent subjects who were similar in socio-demographic factors.

The participants all completed questionnaires that dealt with levels of stress in their lives, how they responded to stress, anger and hostility, and other psychological issues.

"One of the main focuses of this study is that domestic violence appears to be a distinct outcome of a stress process for certain men," Williams said.

The results were consistent with what the researchers had originally thought. Violent men were more likely to report that they repressed emotions. For example, when they are depressed, they just try to take their minds off of the situation rather than confronting it.

"It is not inherently a given that violent men have more stress in their lives," Williams said. "But when they do have stress or problems in their lives and repress or hide it, it can lead to a buildup of frustration that can come out in forms of violence. One practical implication of our findings is to design treatment programs that encourage men to be more comfortable with expressing their emotions."

The Men's Resource Center in Portland, Ore., is a place for men to go when they need help dealing with their violence problems.

Dennis McClure, a therapist at the Men's Resource Center, said when it comes to men relating to painful emotions, they don't do a good job.

"Men repress emotions and they don't know that they are doing that," McClure said. "They don't have a real firm handle on that particular issue."

McClure also said the individual's belief structure needs to be called into question.

"They believe it is okay," McClure said. "People respond differently to the mishandling of their emotions, and men who are violent in domestic situations have that as a part of their makeup."

(C) 2002 The Lantern via U-WIRE