Back to overview

2017-66: Partners of offenders of relational violence in the picture (Call 2017-66)

Target group

Clients who are being treated for committing relational violence, and their partners.


In line with the trend towards a systemic approach to partner violence, the dynamics between partners are taken into account in forensic treatment practice; when an offender is registered for treatment, the partner is preferably involved in the treatment. The psychological problems of offenders are frequently discussed in the literature and suggestions have been made for 'offender typologies' to distinguish between different types of offenders. This information can provide useful tools for a more effective treatment. Less information seems to have been reported about the partners of the offenders, although this may be essential for a tailor-made approach. The questions this report tries to answer are: what is known scientifically about the psychopathology of these partners, are there typologies based on this problem, and is there a link with the dynamics of violence between partners? 


Using relevant search terms, the researchers searched for extensive information on the psychopathology of adult female victims of partner violence in various databases. After a critical selection procedure, some hundred articles remained; these were summarised based on several characteristics.


A great deal of literature has been found about psychological problems among victims of partner violence. The diversity of these studies is broad, using different research designs, definitions of partner abuse and research populations. The most researched forms of psychopathology are mood disorders, anxiety disorders and problematic substance abuse. Other forms of psychopathology, including personality issues, seem to have been investigated less. There is a strong correlation between victimisation of partner violence and psychological symptoms, particularly depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol abuse. Whether these are consequences or causes usually remains unclear. Some typologies have been found that classify victims of partner abuse, among other things by the severity and frequency of violence and demographic data, but no categorisation based solely on psychopathology. Neither has any literature been found that establishes a link between partner psychopathology and the dynamics of violence.


There is not yet a clear picture of the extent to which psychopathology can be categorised among victims of partner violence. Practice shows different types of partners, but these do not yet seem to have been scientifically researched.

Executive party

De Waag, in cooperation with Kairos (part of the Pompe foundation)