Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 399–415 | Cite as

A Multidimensional Definition of Partner Abuse: Development and Preliminary Validation of the Composite Abuse Scale

  • Kelsey HegartyEmail author
  • Mary Sheehan
  • Cynthia Schonfeld


The lack of definitional consistency about domestic violence and the absence of a well-validated comprehensive abuse screening questionnaire have been major methodological flaws in domestic violence research. While there are several screening questionnaires in use, they either are narrowly defined and do not have discrete measures of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse or have not been validated on both abused and nonabused samples. This study presents the development and preliminary validation of a new partner abuse screening questionnaire (Composite Abuse Scale; CAS). Items measuring the three areas of partner abuse were extracted from four published scales: the Conflict Tactics Scale, Measure of Wife Abuse, Inventory of Spouse Abuse, and Psychological Maltreatment of Women Inventory. A survey using these items was sent to all nurses working at a large Australian public, inner-city teaching hospital. Factor analyses of the responses of 427 participants revealed four dimensions: Severe Combined Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, and Harassment. Preliminary evidence is presented on validity and a high scale reliability is reported fof each subscale.

emotional abuse severe partner abuse harassment definition 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelsey Hegarty
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mary Sheehan
    • 2
  • Cynthia Schonfeld
    • 2
  1. 1.Social and Preventive Medicine DepartmentUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Social ScienceQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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