, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 107-120

The role of emotional abuse in physically abusive relationships

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Two hundred thirty four women were interviewed to assess the relationship of emotional abuse to physical abuse. Six major types of emotional abuse were identified. Analyses determined if the types of emotional abuse were related to the frequency and severity of physical abuse. Women in long-term abusive relationships were contrasted with women experiencing only short-term abuse. Other comparisons consisted of: women who thought emotional abuse was worse than physical abuse vs. women who thought the opposite; and women who could predict physical abuse from the emotional abuse were compared with those who could not. The extent to which the women believed the men's threats and ridicule or thought their abusive behavior was justified was used as a factor to determine the impact of emotional abuse. Future research should investigate emotional abuse patterns in nonbattering relationships for comparison with battered women's experiences.