Case 4. Research on Intimate Partner Violence and the Duty to ProtectDr. Daniela Yeung, a health psychologist, has been conducting a federally funded ethnographic study of couples in which the male partner has been paroled following conviction and imprisonment for intimate partner violence (IPV). Over the course of a year, she has had individual monthly interviews with 25 couples while one partner was in jail and following their release. Aiden is a 35-year-old male parolee convicted of seriously injuring his wife. He and his wife, Maya, have 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 wife when he becomes drunk, usually in the evening. To her knowledge, Aiden has never followed through on these threats. Dr. Yeung has the impression both Aiden and Maya feel a sense of social support when discussing their 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.” She calls both Aiden’s and Maya’s cell phone numbers, but no one answers.
Ethical DilemmaDr. Yeung has Aiden’s address, and after 2 hours, she is considering whether or not to contact emergency services to suggest that law enforcement officers go to Aiden’s home or to the homes of his parents and girlfriend.