||The Effects of Intimate Partner Violence on Children
||Robert A. Geffner, Robyn Spurling Igelman, and Jennifer
||Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press, ©2003
The Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press
10 Alice Street
Binghamton, New York 13904-1580
Journal of Emotional Abuse, 3, (1/2) (3/4)
Price: $39.95 Soft; $59.95 Hard
Domestic violence has been a fact in human life for as long as we
know, at least since Cain murdered Abel. Whatever the cause or the
source, our society at present is making efforts to reduce it and build
families where violence is unknown. From that impetus, many
efforts to find out facts about violence in families have been
This arena is a highly emotional issue and there is much passion evoked
by both the conviction that domestic violence is terribly destructive and
the fear of intervention by the state and further erosion of the rights of
families and their civil freedoms.
A book that calmly and objectively assessed the facts that can be based
on good science would be an invaluable aid in finding a way through the
maze of claims, counterclaims, fears, and anxieties. Unfortunately,
this book does not meet that standard. Instead, it represents a
biased and prejudiced approach to the reality of domestic violence that
does not offer factual information but rather endorsement of a limited and
erroneous position on what is known about domestic violence.
The first indication of this bias is in the Introduction in the
discussion of forensic issues and the statements made about the Parental
Alienation Syndrome. The initial attacks on this concept made too
much of the use of the word syndrome. A syndrome is any group of
behaviors or observations which are associated and thought to have an
identifiable origin. Since the concept was described by Gardner
there has been significant research which supports the concept as a taxon.1
This development is ignored by the editors. Instead, the concept is
labeled junk science and presented as a method used to attack women and
The chapter by Schaffer and Bala presents Canadian jurisprudence as an
example of a justice system that falls for junk science and ignores the
plight of women who are abused or whose children are abused. This is
an arrogant and ill-founded attack on the integrity and motivations of
judges and juries. To confidently assert that finders of fact who
heard all the evidence have some sort of conspiracy going to support evil
and wickedness goes too far.
A third problem with the book is the failure to use the best and most
widely accepted scientific quantitative methods to assess research
evidence. The chapter by Onyskiw purports to be a review of the
research. However, it does not use meta-analysis to review relevant
research studies but rather relies on a subjective evaluation of the 47
studies included in the review. Meta- analysis is recognized as the
best and most useful way to evaluate the meaning and import of a given
body of independent research studies.2
Relying upon qualitative review methods is less than accepted scientific
procedures and standards of competent scientific work. The remaining
chapters are reports of research studies that are questionable in terms of
design and quality.
This book is of value only to those who already have a biased and
ideological approach to domestic violence and seek affirmation of their
Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, PhD,, Institute for Psychological Therapies.
1 Kelly, J. B. & Johnston, J. R. (2001).
The Alienated child.
Family Court Review, 39(3), 249- 266. (See whole
2 Rosenthal, R., & DiMatteo, M. R. (200
I). Meta-analysis: Recent developments in quantitative methods and
literature reviews. Annual Review of
Psychology, 52, 59-82.