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Case Study Four




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Case 4. Research on Intimate Partner


Violence and the Duty to Protect


Dr. Daniela Yeung, a community psychologist, has been conducting a federally funded


ethnographic study of men’s attitudes toward intimate partner violence following


conviction and release from prison for spousal abuse. Over the course of a year, she has


had individual monthly interviews with 25 participants while they were in jail and


following their release. Aiden, a 35-year-old male parolee convicted of seriously injuring


his wife, has been interviewed by Dr. Yeung on eight occasions. The interviews have


covered a range of personal topics including Aiden’s problem drinking, which is


marked by blackouts and threatening phone calls made to his parents and girlfriend


when he becomes drunk, usually in the evening. To her knowledge, Aiden has never


followed through on these threats. It is clear that Aiden feels very comfortable discussing


his life with Dr. Yeung. One evening Dr. Yeung checks her answering machine and


finds a message from Aiden. His words are slurred and angry: “Now that you know the


truth about what I am you know that there is nothing you can do to help the evil inside


me. The bottle is my savior and I will end this with them tonight.” Each time she calls


Aiden’s home phone she gets a busy signal.


Ethical Dilemma


Dr. Yeung has Aiden’s address, and after 2 hours, she is considering whether or


not to contact emergency services to go to Aiden’s home or to the homes of his


parents and girlfriend.


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