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Deconstructing the Cycles of Violence : Female Experiences of Appetitive Aggression

Deconstructing the Cycles of Violence : Female Experiences of Appetitive Aggression

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MEYER, Danie, 2018. Deconstructing the Cycles of Violence : Female Experiences of Appetitive Aggression [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz

@phdthesis{Meyer2018Decon-43378, title={Deconstructing the Cycles of Violence : Female Experiences of Appetitive Aggression}, year={2018}, author={Meyer, Danie}, address={Konstanz}, school={Universität Konstanz} }

2018-09-26T12:05:34Z 2018 Deconstructing the Cycles of Violence : Female Experiences of Appetitive Aggression terms-of-use Meyer, Danie 2018-09-26T12:05:34Z eng This dissertation deconstructs what is commonly understood as the cycle of violence into its two respective players, perpetrators and victims, and closely examines their experiences with appetitive aggression.<br /><br />The first article addresses one of the most extreme expressions of violence: torture. By examining both the implementers and recipients of torture, this article serves to establish the binarily juxtaposed roles of perpetrators and victims, respectively. Outlining the psychological consequences of the cycle of violence, this article highlights that both perpetrators and victims are often impacted by the violence they experienced. The current perpetrator-victim binary is unable to depict the complexity of the reality presented in the current literature: many perpetrators were also once victims themselves, and many victims can go on to perpetrate violence against others. This binary of perpetrator versus victim can also reinforce other reductionist conceptualizations, such as assuming that males have a higher propensity for enjoying aggression than females. Inasmuch as males and females each have comparable capacities for being traumatized by victimization, they can also find the perpetration of aggression appealing.<br /><br />The second article compares male and female combatants and found similar levels of appetitive aggression as compared to their civilian counterparts. Furthermore, the more violence perpetrated, often were the levels of appetitive aggression higher. The results demonstrate that, just as there is overlap between the mental health complications challenging perpetrators and victims following perpetration of and exposure to, respectively, violence, there can also be significant similarities between males and females with respect to their experience of perpetrating violence.<br /><br />The third article continues the disentangling of the perpetrator-victim binary by exploring male and female experiences of violence, this time taking both perpetrated and endured violence into account. Specifically, this study found significant moderation effects of sex that suggest sex-linked pathways in the development of appetitive aggression. Childhood maltreatment was negatively associated and traumatic events were not associated with appetitive aggression in females, while in males, appetitive aggression was positively associated with both childhood maltreatment and traumatic events. Moreover, perpetrated events were more strongly correlated with appetitive aggression for females than for males, especially in combatants.<br /><br />The fourth article zooms in on the developmental factors involved in appetitive aggression as evaluated in the third article, however this time focusing only on female individuals with varying degrees of violent perpetration: former combatants, armedgroup supporters, and civilians. Former combatants experienced more traumatic events, perpetrated more violence, had the highest levels of PTSD and reported higher levels of appetitive aggression than supporters and civilians. Supporters had higher levels of appetitive aggression than civilians, while all three groups reported similar exposure to childhood maltreatment, and childhood maltreatment was a stronger predictor for appetitive aggression than PTSD. Appetitive aggression and childhood maltreatment contributed to various forms of aggression independent of one another, increasing overall levels of aggression. These findings illustrate that abuse suffered during childhood, symptoms of PTSD and finding violence appealing all play roles in current levels of aggressive behavior. This study demonstrates that especially in contexts of armed conflict, individuals can transition from victims’ roles to perpetrating roles only to return to victims’ roles again, and even be in both roles simultaneously. The perpetrator-victim binary is likely better represented by a more dualistic understanding of the perpetrator and victim roles in the cycle of violence.<br /><br />The results from the second, third and fourth articles highlight that neither sex is immune to appetitive aggression and should not be underestimated as such in the consideration of mental health interventions and reintegration programs.<br /><br />The fifth and final article transitions the investigation of appetitive aggression from the conflict region of Burundi to a civilian context in Germany and examines appetitive competition motivation in the high level, high contact sport of women’s football, simultaneously investigating its relationship with gender identity and other socialization factors. This study is a first step in exploring a civilian form of appetitive aggression exclusively in females in a context with far less exposure and access to violence than in high conflict contexts, such as in regions reeling from multiple waves of civil war.<br /><br />These investigations combine to provide evidence that the current perpetrator-victim binary inadequately represents the reality of individuals involved in the system of violence. This research shows that in contexts in which individuals are perpetrating violence against others, all individuals are at an increased risk for experiencing appetitive aggression, regardless of sex. The case is made that not only should individuals having perpetrated violence be holistically evaluated with respect to their experiences as victims, but also that individuals who perpetrate violence should be examined in all of their diversity, regardless of where they lie on the biological sex and gender spectrums and in light of their own individual experiences with violence and aggression. Meyer, Danie

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