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Using Attachment Theory to Understand Intergenerational Transmission of Intimate Partner Violence and Implications for Use in Treatment and Policy Reform

McVay, Kristie D. (2012) Using Attachment Theory to Understand Intergenerational Transmission of Intimate Partner Violence and Implications for Use in Treatment and Policy Reform. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Intimate partner violence is experienced by at least 1.3 million women each year, who make up 85 percent of victims. One in every four women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime. Many programs are available that offer limited services to victims and perpetrators alike. These programs have been proven to be ineffective and are deficient in evidence-based practice and outcome evaluation, yet they continue to be funded each year. Objective: To identify current evidence-based practice and outcome evaluation research on intimate partner violence as a result of attachment style and the use of attachment theory in therapeutic treatment programming and policy-making. Methods: A literature search was conducted to identify articles that have described intimate partner violence, how intergenerational transmission works and the theories behind it, and how attachment theory lends itself to the understanding of intergenerational transmission and perpetuation of intimate partner violence. Results: An association was found between the intergenerational transmission of intimate partner violence and individual or partner attachment styles. Witnessing intimate partner violence in combination with the influence of insecure parental attachment bonds creates an individual who often develops anxious adult romantic attachment patterns leading to a greater propensity to enter into a violent intimate relationship. Conclusions: This problem is of great public health significance due to the amount of women affected each year by intimate partner violence in the United States. There is a great need for implementation of attachment theory in treatment provisions for victims and perpetrators of IPV. Current treatments are not effective and policies surrounding IPV lack effective restorative and rehabilitative therapies, while relying too heavily on retributive justice. More multifaceted treatment is needed that can be tailored to a specific couple’s needs. In addition, policies are essential to guide these treatment recommendations and decrease IPV in the United States.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McVay, Kristie D.kdm12@pitt.edukdm12
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorTerry, Martha Annmaterry@pitt.eduMATERRY
Committee MemberBurke, Jessicajgburke@pitt.eduJGBURKE
Committee MemberFinkel,
Date: 24 September 2012
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 July 2012
Approval Date: 24 September 2012
Submission Date: 23 July 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 78
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: intimate partner violence, IPV, intergenerational transmission, attachment theory, domestic violence, spousal violence
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2012 19:29
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2021 13:11


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