Testing a cycle of family violence model in conflict-affected, low-income countries: A qualitative study from Timor-Leste

Susan Rees, Rosamund Thorpe, Wietse Tol, Mira Fonseca, Derrick Silove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The present study examines key aspects of an emerging cycle of violence model as applied to conflict-affected countries. We focus specifically on the roles of intimate partner violence (IPV), consequent experiences of explosive anger amongst women, and associated patterns of harsh parenting. Between 2010 and 2011, we conducted a women-centred and culturally sensitive qualitative inquiry with 77 mothers drawn consecutively from a data-base of all adults residing in two villages in Timor-Leste. We over-sampled women who in the preceding whole of household survey met criteria for Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). Our methodology included in-depth qualitative interviews followed by a focus group with a comprehensive array of service providers. We used the NVivo software package to manage and analyse data. Our findings provide support for a link between IPV and experiences of explosive anger amongst Timorese mothers. Furthermore, women commonly reported that experiences of explosive anger were accompanied by harsh parenting directed at their children. Women identified the role of patriarchy in legitimizing and perpetuating IPV. Our findings suggest that empowering women to address IPV and poverty may allow them to overcome or manage feelings of anger in a manner that will reduce risk of associated harsh parenting. A fuller examination of the cycle of violence model will need to take into account wider contributing factors at the macro-level (historical, conflict-related, political), the meso-level (community-wide adherence to patriarchal norms affecting the rights and roles of women), and the micro-level (family interactions and gendered role expectations, individual psychological responses, and parenting). Longitudinal studies in post-conflict settings are needed to examine whether the sequence of male violence against women, mothers experience of explosive anger, and consequent harsh parenting contributes to risk of aggression and mental disorder in offspring, both in childhood and adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-291
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Armed-conflict
  • Explosive anger
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Parenting
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing a cycle of family violence model in conflict-affected, low-income countries: A qualitative study from Timor-Leste'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this