Psychopathology, alcohol use, deployment history and IPV : the mediating effects of adverse childhood experiences and allostatic load

Dell, Peter Joseph
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The phenomenon of family violence is complex and multidimensional; to date prevalence rates show a rise in cases of family violence despite significant efforts on behalf of practitioners, researchers, and the criminal justice system to reduce it (Bartholomew & Allison, 2006; Pallini et al., 2014). Despite the myriad of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and neurobiological studies that have revealed the impact of exposure to violence in the family on long-term outcomes related to wellbeing, the subject remains relatively understudied. While adaptations to the theoretical frameworks have enhanced our understanding of family violence, interventions have largely remained unchanged. By and large they have prioritized the Duluth model, applicable for one specific typology of family violence, while failing to adequately address more common types of violence (i.e. situational couple violence).
When helping professionals approach a problem from a unidimensional perspective or one size fits all approach the nuance of the causation and ultimately its resolution can be ill fitting at best and potentially exacerbates the condition or situation. For many families the intention of the batterer is not power and control, but rather situationally influenced, the result of a learned maladaptive response to conflict, and depletion of internal resources (i.e., ego strength, hardiness, resilience, empathy; Johnson, 2006). Therefore it is important to explore the biopsychosocial factors that are causally correlated with IPV, specifically the role adverse childhood experiences and allostatic load have in moderating or mediating the relationship between psychopathology, combat exposure, substance abuse, and IPV perpetration. Further, the development of empirically supported assessment models are essential to ensure that couples who experience violence are provided treatment and services that are the most efficacious while remaining sensitive to the safety of all involved. The purpose of this study is to explore factors correlated with intimate partner violence (IPV) risk for Soldiers and their families who have experienced at least one act of relationship violence in the past. Using structural equation modeling (SEM) I have developed a probable causal model to assess the direct and indirect effects of adverse childhood experiences and psychosocial stressors (current) on previously validated correlates (deployment experience, psychopathology, substance abuse) associated with IPV risk.