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Types of Battery

Types of Battery

by Alyssa C. Swartz & Dr. Irene

 November 10, 2000

This is an article with History!  My favorite attorney, the lady who  sent me a virus (when her computer crashed and sent everybody the worm), asked if I knew about certain research in battery. I didn't and asked if she would summarize it. Well, here is the Counselor's research "brief" and my clinician's comments, presented as an edited email dialogue. Thanks (again) Alyssa!     Irene  

Dr. Irene is in Blue; Dr. Alyssa is in black. (Did you know your attorney has a Doctorate? Yep. In Jurisprudence. Wonder why they're not routinely called "doc"?)


I once went to a High Conflict Divorce seminar, and learned that there is not just one "model" or type of battering- or abuse. We have a traditional concept of a cowering, helpless woman and a domineering, beer-belching, torn t-shirt man.  Judith Wallerstein (sp?) gives some seven types, or models, of abusive interaction.  One example- some kinds of hitting is OK, but not others, like hitting when the other is turned away. Mutual battering is another type. One-time explosive battering is another.  You summarize so neatly! Can you relate Wallerstein's concepts to verbal abuse? This may assist some readers, some who may think they are not in abusive situations because they don't fit the traditional model.

On Wallerstein: I am somewhat familiar with her research on divorce but was not aware she came up with a typology of violence. I am very interested in looking at this work. Would you happen to remember a reference?  

ps: You installed virus software which you update regularly, right? (heheheh)


The 1993 Meyer Elkin Essay Contest winner was titled "Parent-Child Relationships in Domestic Violence Families Disputing Custody", by Janet R. Johnson, Ph D. and Linda E.G. Campbell. (Not Judith Wallerstien, as I thought, but that name brings up many great child custody related sites, which see). They recognize the classic batterer-victim relationship identified by Walker in 1984, (the "battered woman syndrome" and cycle of violence) but found a range of situations which do not fit that profile. They identify five basic types of interparental violence among divorcing families disputing custody. Those are 1)ongoing or episodic male battery, 2) female initiated violence, 3) male controlling interactive violence, 4) separation engendered or post-traumatic trauma, and 5) psychotic and paranoid reactions. They specifically state "although emotional abuse is often more pervasive and possibly more psychologically damaging than physical abuse", it was not included in their definition of domestic violence. Stalking behavior is included. They acknowledge that emotional abuse usually precedes, accompanies, and follows the cessation of physically violent incidents. They discuss each profile, then describe the parental-child relationships. I can't find much on the web, but would love to fax or mail you the copies I got at the seminar. The descriptions of the children's behavior seems especially important, for example, "children of 1) violent fathers who do not have contact tend to repress bad memories and idealize the absent father." They become more aggressive as they identify with him and value the "lost object", and blame their mothers for the loss. More later. The Lurking and Worming lawyer

A back issue with the Johnson--Campbell article can be purchased at It's July 1993, Volume 31, No. 3 of the Family and Conciliation Courts Review. I don't want to violate copyright laws, but here's a sample I have paraphrased for brevity: Profile "B"- Female initiated violence: The source of their violence is their own intolerable internal states of tension. The women are seen as histrionic, emotionally labile women, often dependent and self-occupied. They were prone to explosive temper outbursts when they felt their needs were unmet. They might throw objects, destroy possessions, kick, hit or scratch their partner. They usually are willing to admit their behavior. Husbands try to prevent the attacks or restrain the attacker. Characteristically, these men were passive, depressed, obsessive, and intimidated by the attacks and embarrassed at being drawn into the fight. The women's relationships with their children were erratic and unpredictable- loving and nurturing then angry and explosive. Typically, young girls would become timid, cringing and withdrawn......alternatively some girls assumed role reversal, assuming parenting and household tasks. The girls tend to be supported by a warm relationship with their father, who sees them as the "good female" in comparison to his wife....In general, boys overtly and openly were abusive with their mothers only to the extent that their fathers were. Younger boys appeared to unable to separate emotionally, simultaneously needy for her nurturance, covertly angry with her inability to gratify their needs, and fearful for her anger and rejection....Profile C: Male controlling interactive violence-...domestic violence arose out of an escalating disagreement between both spouses, shifting from mutual insults to verbal abuse to violence. Either could initiate violence, but the defining feature was the male's overriding response to assert control over the female by physical dominance....not brutal beatings, the man exercises various restraint depending on how much the female resisted his efforts to control her. Physical aggression is an accepted way to resolve conflicts, that is, it was EGOSYNTONIC. (?Explain please, Doc)... 

Egosyntonic is behaving in ways you think is OK for you to behave.

adults likely to get into physical confrontations with their children, siblings, even their own parents. Aggressive behavior is rationalized, much mutual blaming.... predominant responses in both boys and girls was aggressiveness and passive-aggressiveness...parents were poor models for ego control, modeling fighting rather than reason as means of settling disputes. ...neither parent supports the other, rather they openly sabotage each other...inconsistent and contradictory family rules, many splits and alliances. Kids alliances shift from one parent to the other, physically punitive child rearing practices were common, as were physical fights between siblings. Older boys tend to resist authority..... fathers tend to have peer-like associations with the sons, which increased son's self esteem but gives son permission to act aggressively to get what he wants, especially from mother and sisters...Profile D: In separation- engendered and post divorce trauma, violence is a uncharacteristic. Both men and women admit violent outbursts and are embarrassed about their lack of self control, their violence was EGO-DYSTONIC. (?Again, please, Doc!)  

Egodystonic: behaving in ways that goes against your grain.

I got the most from the descriptions of the children's behaviors, explaining their reactions to the situations. There does not seem to be a "bright line" between the effects of physical vs. verbal abuse, it's a continuum of conduct. 


You site research. From a clinician's perspective, I agree wholeheartedly.

One way to do this could be to list sections of your review of the research while I comment from the perspective of a clinician specializing in the area.  
My very best wishes and thanks so very much for your summary. I guess you write so many briefs, you get real good at pulling this stuff together... (it shows)  Irene

Gosh, I'm flattered right down to my toes! Feel free to re-post, comment, re-write, or anything. I'm quoting clinical stuff directly, maybe you can better summarize or simplify for those not as fortunate as you and I to have studied Psychology. Please use my name, even my e-mail address if you'd like. 

If you are OK on my publishing your summary, I can elaborate/ rephrase the parts you are worried about violating. Also, nothing gets put up without your OK whether you lend your name, pen name, or otherwise.

I've encountered this scenario in my practice: A VERY angry woman comes in, husband has smacked her in an uncharacteristic fit of rage (the breakup of the marriage being the initiating factor, a.k.a. Profile D). She has no other model to describe her situation than the Battered Woman Syndrome, which does not quite fit. No doubt there is and has been abuse, but she is not helpless or passive. The first time a judge did not weigh that hitting very seriously, saying "well, that happens sometimes..." I was astonished. The other common scenario I see is an overly patient, restrained man with an abusive ("She's nuts!") wife, a.k.a Profile B. She seems passive and dependant, but is still abusive. The battered wife syndrome does not describe him or her, yet the relationship is fraught with abuse. Sometimes her abuse stems from her childhood or past. Sometimes she may be reacting to his verbal abuse.
I know my rambling summaries could be made clearer by your comments. Heck, start from scratch if it's easier. My initial focus was "Why are my kids acting this way about the creep I'm divorcing", but you may want to focus more on why these adults do as they do.