Adverse Childhood Experiences, Trauma Symptoms, Mindfulness, and Intimate Partner Violence: Therapeutic Implications for Marginalized Men.Fam Process. 2020 12; 59(4):1588-1607.FP
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma symptoms have been linked with intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration and victimization among men, yet the field lacks depth in several key areas hampering progress toward violence intervention. Specifically, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) dominates the field's scope of trauma symptoms under study, limiting understanding of other manifestations of trauma especially among men. Furthermore, most research focuses exclusively on men's physical IPV perpetration and rarely focuses on other types of IPV, severity of violence, or men's victimization. Also, few studies examine potential protective factors grounded in the ACE framework, such as mindfulness, among clinical populations. Finally, most research has not focused on men of color, despite some racial/ethnic minority groups disproportionate rates of IPV exposure. Therefore, the relationships between IPV frequency and severity (psychological, physical, injury) and ACEs, PTSD, trauma symptomology (separate from PTSD), and mindfulness self-efficacy were examined in a sample of 67 predominantly low-income men of color in a batterer intervention program. More than half of the sample (51.5%) reported exposure to four or more ACEs, and 31.1% met the clinical cutoff for a probable PTSD diagnosis. Higher ACE scores predicted increased rates for nearly all types of self-reported IPV perpetration and victimization. PTSD symptoms and complex trauma symptom severity together explained between 13% and 40% of IPV outcomes, and each was uniquely associated with certain types of self-reported IPV victimization and perpetration frequency and severity. Mindfulness self-efficacy was associated with decreased self-report psychological IPV perpetration and victimization frequency and severity. Clinical implications relevant to marginalized men are reviewed, including screening, training, and potential therapeutic interventions.