Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

A Longitudinal Analysis of Women Veterans’ Partner Violence Perpetration: the Roles of Interpersonal Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Journal of Family Violence Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Significant research has focused on intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization among women Veterans, yet much less is known about women Veterans’ IPV perpetration. Although military sexual trauma (MST) is a predictor of IPV victimization, military sexual assault (MSA), a component of MST, may predict especially adverse consequences for women Veterans. This study examined the unique effects of MSA on IPV victimization of, and perpetration by, women Veterans, and investigated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and prior IPV victimization as potential mediators of IPV perpetration. Participants included 187 women Veterans drawn from a larger web-based survey. We assessed the two components of MST (MSA and harassment) at Time 1 (T1), PTSD symptoms at Time 2 (T2), IPV victimization at T2 and Time 3 (T3), and IPV perpetration at T3. MSA predicted multiple subtypes of IPV victimization and perpetration, whereas harassment predicted neither. Those who reported MSA were more likely to experience T3 psychological and sexual IPV victimization, with PTSD symptoms significantly mediating this path. MSA was also directly related to T3 psychological IPV perpetration and indirectly related to physical and sexual IPV perpetration through PTSD symptoms. MSA was directly related to T2 PTSD symptoms while T2 IPV victimization was directly related to T3 IPV perpetration. These findings underscore that women Veterans’ IPV perpetration may be in response to their own IPV victimization through self-defense and/or due to their PTSD symptoms. Results support prevention, screening, and treatment for IPV victimization and PTSD symptoms to lower risk of future IPV revictimization and perpetration.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Babcock, J. C., Miller, S. A., & Siard, C. (2003). Toward a typology of abusive women: Differences between partner-only and generally violent women in the use of violence. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27(2), 153–161.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barth, S. K., Kimerling, R. E., Pavao, J., McCutcheon, S. J., Batten, S. V., Dursa, E., Peterson, M. R., & Schneiderman, A. I. (2016). Military sexual trauma among recent veterans: Correlates of sexual assault and sexual harassment. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 50(1), 77–86.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Berke, D. S., Macdonald, A., Poole, G. M., Portnoy, G. A., McSheffrey, S., Creech, S. K., & Taft, C. T. (2017). Optimizing trauma-informed intervention for intimate partner violence in veterans: The role of alexithymia. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 97, 222–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bonomi, A. E., Anderson, M. L., Rivara, F. P., & Thompson, R. S. (2007). Health outcomes in women with physical and sexual intimate partner violence exposure. Journal of Women's Health, 16(7), 987–997.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bovin, M. J., Marx, B. P., Weathers, F. W., Gallagher, M. W., Rodriguez, P., Schnurr, P. P., & Keane, T. M. (2016). Psychometric properties of the PTSD checklist for diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders–fifth edition (PCL-5) in veterans. Psychological Assessment, 28(11), 1379–1391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Breiding, M. J., Basile, K. C., Smith, S. G., Black, M. C., & Mahendra, R. R. (2015). Intimate partner violence surveillance: Uniform definitions and recommended data elements. Atlanta: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coker, A. L., Davis, K. E., Arias, I., Desai, S., Sanderson, M., Brandt, H. M., & Smith, P. H. (2002). Physical and mental health effects of intimate partner violence for men and women. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 23, 260–268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Creech, S. K., Macdonald, A., & Taft, C. (2017). Use and experience of recent intimate partner violence among women veterans who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Partner Abuse, 8(3), 251–271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Creech, S. K., Benzer, J. K., Ebalu, T., Murphy, C. M., & Taft, C. T. (2018). National implementation of a trauma-informed intervention for intimate partner violence in the Department of Veterans Affairs: First year outcomes. BMC Health Services Research, 18(1), 582.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dichter, M. E., Cerulli, C., & Bossarte, R. M. (2011). Intimate partner violence victimization among women veterans and associated heart health risks. Women's Health Issues, 21, S190–S194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2011.04.008.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dichter, M. E., Marcus, S. C., Wagner, C., & Bonomi, A. E. (2014). Associations between psychological, physical, and sexual intimate partner violence and health outcomes among women veteran VA patients. Social Work in Mental Health, 12(5–6), 411–428.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dichter, M. E., Haywood, T. N., Butler, A. E., Bellamy, S. L., & Iverson, K. M. (2017). Intimate partner violence screening in the veterans health administration: Demographic and military service characteristics. American journal of preventive medicine, 52(6), 761–768.

  • Dutra, L., de Blank, G., Scheiderer, E., & Taft, C. (2012). Correlates of female veterans' perpetration of relationship aggression. Psychological Trauma Theory Research Practice and Policy, 4(3), 323–329.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ehring, T., & Quack, D. (2010). Emotion regulation difficulties in trauma survivors: The role of trauma type and PTSD symptom severity. Behavior Therapy, 41, 587–598.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fergusson, D. M., Horwood, L. J., & Ridder, E. M. (2005). Partner violence and mental health outcomes in a New Zealand birth cohort. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 1103–1119. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00202.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gold, J. I., Taft, C. T., Keehn, M. G., King, D. W., King, L. A., & Samper, R. E. (2007). PTSD symptom severity and family adjustment among female Vietnam veterans. Military Psychology, 19, 71–81. https://doi.org/10.1080/08995600701323368.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Houry, D., Feldhaus, K., Peery, B., Abbott, J., Lowenstein, S. R., Al-Bataa-de-Montero, S., & Levine, S. (2004). A positive domestic violence screen predicts future domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19(9), 955–966. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260504267999.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6, 1–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iverson, K. M., Gradus, J. L., Resick, P. A., Suvak, M. K., Smith, K. F., & Monson, C. M. (2011). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for PTSD and depression symptoms reduces risk for future intimate partner violence among interpersonal trauma survivors. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 193–202. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022512.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Iverson, K. M., Litwack, S. D., Pineles, S. L., Suvak, M. K., Vaughn, R. A., & Resick, P. A. (2013a). Predictors of intimate partner violence revictimization: The relative impact of distinct PTSD symptoms, dissociation, and coping strategies. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(1), 102–110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iverson, K. M., Mercado, R., Carpenter, S. L., & Street, A. E. (2013b). Intimate partner violence among women veterans: Previous interpersonal violence as a risk factor. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26, 767–771.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iverson, K. M., Huang, K., Wells, S. Y., Wright, J. D., Gerber, M. R., & Wiltsey-Stirman, S. (2014). Women veterans' preferences for intimate partner violence screening and response procedures within the veterans health administration. Research in Nursing & Health, 37(4), 302–311.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iverson, K. M., Stirman, S. W., Street, A. E., Gerber, M. R., Carpenter, S. L., Dichter, M. E., ... Vogt, D. (2016). Female veterans' preferences for counseling related to intimate partner violence: Informing patient-centered interventions. General Hospital Psychiatry, 40, 33–38.

  • Kimerling, R., Gima, K., Smith, M. W., Street, A., & Frayne, S. (2007). The veterans health administration and military sexual trauma. American Journal of Public Health, 97, 2160–2166. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2006.092999.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kimerling, R., Street, A. E., Pavao, J., Smith, M. W., Cronkite, R. C., Holmes, T. H., & Frayne, S. M. (2010). Military-related sexual trauma among veterans health administration patients returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. American Journal of Public Health, 100, 1409–1412. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2009.171793.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kimerling, R., Iverson, K. M., Dichter, M. E., Rodriguez, A. L., Wong, A., & Pavao, J. (2016). Prevalence of intimate partner violence among women veterans who utilize veterans health administration primary care. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 31(8), 888–894.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kimmel, M. S. (2002). “Gender symmetry” in domestic violence: A substantive and methodological research review. Violence Against Women, 8(11), 1332–1363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirby, A. C., Beckham, J. C., Calhoun, P. S., Roberts, S. T., Taft, C. T., Elbogen, E. B., & Dennis, M. F. (2012). An examination of general aggression and intimate partner violence in women with posttraumatic stress disorder. Violence and Victims, 27(5), 777–792.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Krause, E. D., Kaltman, S., Goodman, L., & Dutton, M. A. (2006). Role of distinct PTSD symptoms in intimate partner reabuse: A prospective study. Journal of Traumatic Stress: Official Publication of The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, 19(4), 507–516.

  • Kuijpers, K. F., van der Knaap, L. M., & Winkel, F. W. (2012). PTSD symptoms as risk factors for intimate partner violence revictimization and the mediating role of victims' violent behavior. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 25(2), 179–186.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leisring, P. A. (2012). Physical and emotional abuse in romantic relationships: Motivation for perpetration among college women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28, 1437–1454. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260512468236.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McIntyre, L. M., Butterfield, M. I., Nanda, K., Parsey, K., Stechuchak, K. M., McChesney, A. W., Koons, C., & Bastian, L. A. (1999). Validation of a trauma questionnaire in veteran women. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 14(3), 186–189.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Miller, S., & Meloy, M. (2006). Women’s use of force: Voices of women arrested for domestic violence. Violence Against Women, 12, 89–115. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801205277356.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Pico-Alfonso, M. A. (2005). Psychological intimate partner violence: The major predictor of posttraumatic stress disorder in abused women. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 29(1), 181–193.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pico-Alfonso, M. A., Garcia-Linares, M. I., Celda-Navarro, N., Blasco-Ros, C., Echeburúa, E., & Martinez, M. (2006). The impact of physical, psychological, and sexual intimate male partner violence on women's mental health: Depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder, state anxiety, and suicide. Journal of Women's Health, 15(5), 599–611.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Portnoy, G. A., Haskell, S. G., King, M. W., Maskin, R., Gerber, M. R., & Iverson, K. M. (2018a). Accuracy and acceptability of a screening tool for identifying intimate partner violence perpetration among women veterans: a pre-implementation evaluation. Women’s Health Issues, 28(5), 439–445.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Portnoy, G. A., Relyea, M. R., Decker, S., Shamaskin-Garroway, A., Driscoll, M., Brandt, C. A., & Haskell, S. G. (2018b). Understanding gender differences in resilience among veterans: Trauma history and social ecology. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 31(6), 845–855. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22341.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Rabin, R. F., Jennings, J. M., Campbell, J. C., & Bair-Merritt, M. H. (2009). Intimate partner violence screening tools: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 36, 439–445. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2009.01.024.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Rosen, K. H., Stith, S. M., Few, A. L., Daly, K. L., & Tritt, D. R. (2005). A qualitative investigation of Johnson’s typology. Violence and Victims, 20, 319–334. https://doi.org/10.1891/vivi.20.3.319.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Skinner, K. M., Kressin, N., Frayne, S., Tripp, T. J., Hankin, C. S., Miller, D. R., & Sullivan, L. M. (2000). The prevalence of military sexual assault among female Veterans' Administration outpatients. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15(3), 291–310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Boney-McCoy, S., & Sugarman, D. B. (1996). The revised conflict tactics scale (CTS2): Development and preliminary psychometric data. Journal of Family Issues, 17, 283–316. https://doi.org/10.1177/019251396017003001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Street, A. E., & Arias, I. (2001). Psychological abuse and PTSD in battered women: Examining the roles of shame and guilt. Violence and Victims, 16(1), 65–78.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Street, A. E., Stafford, J., Mahan, C. M., & Hendricks, A. (2008). Sexual harassment and assault experienced by reservists during military service: Prevalence and health correlates. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 45(3), 409–420.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Swan, S., & Snow, D. (2006). The development of a theory of women’s use of violence in intimate relationships. Violence Against Women, 12, 1026–1045.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Taft, C. T., O’Farrell, T. J., Torres, S. E., Panuzio, J., Monson, C. M., Murphy, M., et al. (2006). Examining the correlates of psychological aggression among a community sample of couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 581–588.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Taft, C. T., Watkins, L. E., Stafford, J., Street, A. E., & Monson, C. M. (2011). Posttraumatic stress disorder and intimate relationship problems: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79(1), 22–33. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022196.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Taft, C. T., Macdonald, A., Creech, S. K., Monson, C. M., & Murphy, C. M. (2016). A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial of the Strength at Home Men's Program for Partner Violence in Military Veterans. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 77(9), 1168–1175.

  • Ullman, S. E., & Relyea, M. (2016). Social support, coping, and posttraumatic stress symptoms in female sexual assault survivors: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 29(6), 500–506.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weathers, F. W., B. T. Litz, T. M. Keane, P. A. Palmieri, B. P. Marx, and P. P. Schnurr. 2013. The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Scale available from the National Center for PTSD at www.ptsd.va.gov.

  • Wilson, L. C. (2018). The prevalence of military sexual trauma: A meta-analysis. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 19(5), 584–597. https://doi.org/10.1177/1524838016683459.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding Statement

This research was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) as part of Dr. Katherine Iverson’s HSR&D Career Development Award (CDA 10–029), and HSR&D Award PPO 17–044 and her Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (USA 14–275). Dr. Iverson is an fellow with the Implementation Research Institute, at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis; through an award from the National Institute of Mental Health (5R25MH08091607) and the VA HSR&D Services, Quality Enhancement Research Initiative. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States government. The corresponding author had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Galina A. Portnoy.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Portnoy, G.A., Relyea, M.R., Street, A.E. et al. A Longitudinal Analysis of Women Veterans’ Partner Violence Perpetration: the Roles of Interpersonal Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms. J Fam Viol 35, 361–372 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-019-00061-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-019-00061-3

Keywords

Navigation