Date of Conferral







Sandra Xuereb


Witnessing intimate partner abuse (IPA) as a child is linked to later perpetration as an adult. Questions remain regarding why some men who witnessed abuse go on to perpetrate, while others do not. The influence maternal attachment has on IPA perpetration after witnessed IPA has not been thoroughly researched. Maternal attachment is a complex variable grounded in attachment theory and may explain why some men fail to relate to their victimized mothers. The purpose of this study was to assess the influence maternal attachment has on men who witnessed IPA as a child and later perpetrated IPA as an adult. An interpretative phenomenological approach was used to explore this. Eight participants responded to semistructured interview questions designed to explore their lived experiences regarding maternal attachment. While the majority of participants stated they felt a strong connection to their mother despite witnessing IPA as a child, further statements by participants seemed to coincide with anxious or avoidant forms of attachment. Study results shed light on the influence maternal attachment has on IPA perpetration and the societal implications regarding necessary counseling and support for young men who witnessed IPA. Societal acknowledgement of young male victimization regardless of subjection to physical abuse themselves would set the foundation for further funding, resources, and research regarding witnessed IPA, maternal attachment, and IPA perpetration that may prevent future incidents and end abusive cycles leading to positive social change.