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Functional Links Between Intimate Partner Violence and Animal Abuse: Personality Features and Representations of Aggression

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Acts of intimate partner violence (IPV) and abuse of nonhuman animals are common, harmful, and co-occurring phenomena. The aim of the present study was to identify perpetrator subtypes based on variable paths hypothesized to influence physical violence toward both partners and nonhuman animals: (a) callousness and instrumental representations of aggression and (b) rejection-sensitivity and expressive representations of aggression. Strong associations emerged between callousness and instrumental representations and between rejection-sensitivity and expressive representations. For males, callousness directly predicted both IPV and animal abuse. For females, rejection-sensitivity predicted IPV. Instrumental representations mediated the relationship between callousness and animal abuse for females but not for males. Results suggest that IPV and animal abuse functionally interconnect, that perpetration of animal abuse may differ in function across gender, and that identifying distinct pathways to violence may facilitate violence prediction and prevention.

Affiliations: 1: President, Ahimsa House Safe Haven for Pets Program, P.O. Box 8181, Atlanta, Georgia 31106, USA;, Email:


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