Sub‐clinical trauma in the treatment of partner violent offenders with substance dependence

Cory A. Crane (Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA)
Lindsay M.S. Oberleitner (Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Caroline J. Easton (Department of Health Sciences and Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, USA)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis

ISSN: 1757-0972

Publication date: 15 February 2013



With an established association between post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV), evaluating the effectiveness of emerging integrated treatments for dual substance use and partner violent behavior in individuals with a significant trauma history may serve to improve treatment outcomes for clients with axis I psychopathology. The purpose of this paper is to examine the association between sub‐clinical trauma, treatment compliance, and recidivism in a sample of male, substance dependent IPV offenders.


The described investigation utilized violence perpetration, substance use, and trauma data collected during a larger, randomized control treatment evaluation study. Data were collected from 56 participants at four time points throughout treatment.


Participants with a significant trauma history comprised 33.9 percent of the sample and demonstrated poorer treatment attendance, as well as heightened partner violence recidivism throughout treatment, as compared to participants who denied experiencing a significant trauma. This finding held across participants receiving substance treatment only and combined treatment addressing substance use and violence.

Practical implications

IPV perpetrators often have a trauma history themselves. The association between sub‐clinical trauma symptomatology and poor treatment outcomes calls for the adaptation of current partner violence intervention models to accommodate the large subset of clients who suffer from either sub‐clinical or clinically significant trauma.


This paper is the first to address the potential influence of sub‐clinical trauma on the integrated treatment of substance use and partner violence within a forensic sample. Suggestions are offered to adapt existing treatment models to accommodate dual diagnosed clients.



Crane, C., Oberleitner, L. and Easton, C. (2013), "Sub‐clinical trauma in the treatment of partner violent offenders with substance dependence", Advances in Dual Diagnosis, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 5-13.

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