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Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 109–122 | Cite as

The Process of Leaving an Abusive Relationship: The Role of Risk Assessments and Decision-Certainty

  • Andrea J. Martin
  • Kathy R. Berenson
  • Sascha Griffing
  • Robert E. Sage
  • Lorraine Madry
  • Lewis E. Bingham
  • Beny J. Primm
Article

Abstract

Seventy female residents of an urban domestic violence shelter were interviewed to examine a series of hypotheses concerning two factors relevant to the process of leaving an abusive relationship: risk assessments and decision-certainty. Participants' subjective estimates of their own risk of returning to the batterer were examined relative to their perceptions of the likelihood that most battered women will return to the batterer, their certainty regarding the decision to leave the batterer, and their status on known risk factors for returning to an abusive relationship. As hypothesized, battered women's perceptions of personal risk for returning to the batterer were biased by unrealistic optimism; specifically, personal risk was estimated as significantly lower than the risk of most battered women and was not correlated with actual risk factors. Further, the magnitude of the optimistic bias was significantly greater among women expressing high certainty about their decision to leave than among women who expressed less certainty. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

battered women risk assessments abusive relationships 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea J. Martin
    • 1
  • Kathy R. Berenson
    • 1
  • Sascha Griffing
    • 1
  • Robert E. Sage
    • 2
  • Lorraine Madry
    • 1
  • Lewis E. Bingham
    • 2
  • Beny J. Primm
    • 2
  1. 1.Urban Women's RetreatNew York
  2. 2.Urban Resource InstituteBrooklyn

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