Browsing UVM Bailey-Howe Library by Subject "Abused partners"

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Browsing UVM Bailey-Howe Library by Subject "Abused partners"

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  • Herrera, Ingrid (University of Vermont. Dept. of Psychology, 2004-04
      Historically, society's concept of violence and victimization has focused on assaults occurring between acquaintances and strangers. Yet, it is well known today that a woman's greatest risk of assault is not from strangers, but from intimates. Furthermore, domestic violence is a highly significant social problem that affects more than 4.4 million women in this country every year. Given the importance of domestic violence in society, the most troubling and predominant failing in the literature is the fact that much of the research takes into account only physical violence, ignoring the multidimensionality of the domestic abuse experience for many women. In reality, domestic violence towards women generally involves additional forms of harm, including psychological and sexual abuse by their partners. One fact that has been well established in the domestic violence literature is that women who have been abused by their partners are at significantly increased risk for psychological, health, and trauma-related problems. However, there is considerable variability among these women in the effects that they experience. It is important to investigate factors that may account for a woman's ability to cope, as well strategies that have been helpful in mediating the negative effects of trauma, which could be useful clinically in treating women who are in relationships characterized by domestic violence. This dissertation, a study of women currently or recently in battering relationships, explored these issues. The participants consisted of 58 women who were currently in or had recently left (within the past six months) a relationship characterized by domestic abuse, and who were not currently in treatment or in living in shelters. They were recruited through newspaper advertisements and community fliers. The results of the study showed that domestic abuse has multiple components - physical, sexual, and psychological - and that sexual and psychological abuse were related to negative physical and psychological health outcomes for women who were currently in or had recently left their relationship. Physical abuse was not found to be related to psychological or physical health outcomes for either group. Although the total amount of abuse a woman experienced was not found to be important in the psychological adjustment and physical health of these women, women who stayed in the relationship had more physical and psychological symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and physical health problems, than those who had left. Three types of coping strategies (cognitive restructuring, social support, and disengaged coping) were significantly related to physical and mental health outcomes, particularly for women who were still in the relationship, with cognitive restructuring and social support predicting more positive outcomes, and disengaged coping predicting more negative ones.

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