Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


There is an abundance of research which has explored the complex nature related to men who commit partner abuse including: causative factors, co-occurring variables, treatment efficacy, and attrition and recidivism rates. Although, all of these issues are relevant to understanding and eliminating the problem of partner violence, unexplored conditions still remain. For instance, the mystery surrounding an abusive man's level of remorse for his behavior; particularly, his capacity for empathy toward his victim and related insights to how his behavior has had an impact on his victim have been under-researched. Exploring the ways in which abusive men think and learn opens up opportunities which, may lead to a better understanding about what works in treatment. This researcher's questions related to male completers capacity for empathy toward their partners post treatment was examined.

A qualitative analysis of 17 court-ordered male completers of a partner abuse intervention program, (PAIP) examined the presence of four types of empathy: mutual, cognitive, affective, and action oriented empathy including a comparative non-empathic condition, personal distress. Findings revealed that the therapeutic group environment which, used psycho-educational and conscious raising methods emphasized by teaching power and control dynamics, encouraged men's insights and expressions of empathy toward their partners. Men's expressions of cognitive empathy was a predominant theme followed by mutual empathy, a term derived from the feminist based Relational-Cultural

model. The added influence of the judicial system was associated with expressions of personal distress. Implications related to the association between treatment modality and the men's expressions of empathy and personal distress is discussed. Suggestions for practice, policy, advocacy, and future research is explored.

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