WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- A new study reveals how
men facing charges of felony domestic violence often persuade their
victims to withdraw the accusations of abuse.
Ohio State University researchers listened to recorded jailhouse
phone conversations between 17 accused male abusers in a Washington
state detention facility and their female victims who decided not
to follow through on the charges against the men.
The detention facility routinely records detainees' phone
conversations and all the couples in the study knew they were being
The study authors, who examined between 30 and 192 minutes of
phone conversations between each of the couples, said their
findings may change how legal officials work with domestic violence
victims to prosecute alleged abusers.
"The existing belief is that victims recant because the perpetrator threatens her with more violence. But our results suggest something very different," lead author Amy Bonomi, an associate professor of human development and family science, said in a university news release.
"Perpetrators are not threatening the victim, but are using more sophisticated emotional appeals designed to minimize their actions and gain the sympathy of the victim. That should change how we work with victims," she said.
Bonomi and her colleagues identified a five-step process that
begins with victims determined to proceed with charges and ending
with them agreeing to recant their testimony against the accused
"The tipping point for most victims occurs when the perpetrator appeals to her sympathy, by describing how much he is suffering in jail, how depressed he is, and how much he misses her and their children," Bonomi said. "The perpetrator casts himself as the victim, and quite often the real victim responds by trying to soothe and comfort the abuser."
The study was released online in advance of publication in an
upcoming print issue of the journal
Social Science & Medicine.
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