Title

Understanding posttraumatic stress disorder among victims of intimate partner violence the roles of perceived social support, self-esteem, and self-blame

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name

M.A. in Psychology

Department

Department of Psychology

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: Catherine L. Zois

Abstract

The relationship between the experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) and the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been well-established in the literature (Basile, Arias, Desai, & Thompson, 2004; Coker, Smith, Thompson, McKeown, Bethea, & Davis, 2002). However, researchers have called for more complex statistical models capable of identifying and analyzing the pathways potentially linking IPV and PTSD. Research indicates that IPV victims report lower levels of perceived social support than non-IPV victims (Bengtsson-Tops & Tops, 2007) and that, as a result, victims are at greater risk of developing PTSD (Ozer, Best, Lipsey, & Weiss, 2008). Drawing from the stress buffering hypothesis (Cohen & Willis, 1985), which states that social support acts as a buffer, protecting an individual from the negative effects of a stressful event, the current study analyzed the moderating role of perceived social support in the relationship between IPV and PTSD. It was hypothesized that the positive relationship between IPV and PTSD would be stronger among individuals perceiving lower social support. It was also hypothesized that characterological self-blame and self-esteem would mediate the moderator effect of perceived social support. The hypotheses were tested by distributing questionnaires to 132 adult female participants recruited at a substance abuse treatment facility and a private university. The results indicated that IPV was positively associated with PTSD, and perceived social support negatively predicted PTSD. Further, perceived social support moderated the positive relationship between IPV and PTSD. At the extreme levels of perceived social support, the positive relationship between IPV and PTSD was stronger among individuals perceiving low levels of social support than among those perceiving high levels of social support. However, at the moderate levels of perceived social support, the positive relationship between IPV and PTSD was stronger among individuals perceiving high levels of social support than among those perceiving low levels of social support. Lastly, the results showed that self-esteem mediated the observed moderator effect of perceived social support. Possible explanations for the apparent shift in the direction of the moderation as well as the clinical implications of the findings, limitations of the current study, and directions for future research are discussed.

Keywords

Intimate partner violence Psychological aspects, Abused women Social networks, Abused men Social networks, Post-traumatic stress disorder Patients Social networks, Family violence Psychological aspects

Rights Statement

Copyright 2012, author

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