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Examining the Associations Between Multi-Dimensional Facets of Emotional Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Trauma Exposed Women

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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been found to be positively related to victimization of emotional abuse from an intimate partner. However, as PTSD has also been demonstrated to be associated with perpetration of emotional abuse, there may be confounding factors between perpetration and victimization of emotional abuse as many couples present with bi-directional abusive behavior. The current study examined the unique variance of PTSD symptom severity among trauma exposed women explained by victimization and perpetration of emotional abuse, as well as to explore whether these factors interact.


Couples with trauma exposed women (N = 141) completed measures of physical and emotional abuse in their current relationship and women reported on their own PTSD symptom severity.


Victimization of the Restrictive Engulfment, Hostile Withdrawal, and Denigration forms of emotional abuse were positively associated with PTSD symptom severity. For Hostile Withdrawal and Denigration, the associations between victimization and PTSD symptom severity were only significant among women who were not also engaging in emotional abuse perpetration. Victimization of Dominance/Intimidation emotional abuse was not related to PTSD symptoms. Rather, perpetration of Dominance/Intimidation emotional abuse was associated with heightened PTSD symptom severity.


Findings suggest specific dimensions of emotionally abusive behaviors, both victimization and perpetration, place trauma exposed women at risk for heightened symptom severity.

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  1. Severe physical IPV is defined by acts of aggression that are increased risk for serious injury or death. They are measure from the CTS-2 that include items such as “been chocked by my partner,” “my partner burned or scalded me on purpose”, etc.


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Correspondence to Donald A. Godfrey.

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Godfrey, D.A., Kehoe, C.M., Bennett, V.E. et al. Examining the Associations Between Multi-Dimensional Facets of Emotional Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Trauma Exposed Women. J Fam Viol 38, 1431–1441 (2023).

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