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PARTNER VIOLENCE AND ITS EFFECTS ON SUBJECTIVE STRESS BY PAULA PULMANO A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Psychology New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Gordon Bauer Sarasota, Florida April, 2012
ii Dedication This is dedicated to all the strong, brave, and courageous survivors who have ever been abused, raped, or victimized. May your strength resonate to all those currently living in abusive situations and may your voices and storie s be heard. Continue to stay strong. You are truly an inspiration.
iii Acknowledgments I would not have been able to complete my thesis without the help of some wonderful individuals. Thank you Dr. Bauer for guiding me through this thesis process, supporting, and motivating me to continue working hard and for pushing me in the right direction. I would have been completely lost and confused without you. Your comments and revisions have helped me become a better writer and your recommendation s have made this thesis project more efficient and accurate. Thank you Dr. Reid for supporting me through this thesis process. A big thank you for allowing me to take part in the Title IX ISP. I have gained an invaluable experience through that ISP and hav e made some great connections. Your stance on these issues. Thank you Dr. Graham for, spontaneously, working with me on this project. I know this year has been overwhelming ly busy for my committee and I wanted to thank each and every one of them for taking me under their wing. A big special thank you to SPARCC for allowing me to implement my thesis at the shelter. This center has helped me become the person I am today and I do not know what I would do without them. Their help and support has transcended past this thesis period. More importantly I would like to thank their advocates, particularly Jeanette Ocasio and Concetta Hollinger, for helping me through my tough time. It
iv think that once I was a client and now I am an advocate. The power and strength of empowerment is truly amazing. I would also like to thank the community of survivors here at the New College of Florida for supporting my thesis and events. Wi thout you I would have felt alone and afraid to speak out about my experiences. You give me the strength to continue fighting for this cause and to continue working for survivors. We really are a community of strong and amazing people. May you always find a friend and confidant in me. To my friends, who have watched me go through an emotional rollercoaster ride during this entire process For buying me dinner, taking me shopping, and forcing me to write my thesis, I absolutely love you. You have been my ro ck. You have kept me grounded. And you have inspired me to be a strong, empowered, and independent woman. A special thanks to my best friends Kortney Lapeyrolerie, Erin Lap eyrolerie, Farrell Ocasio, and Stephanie Larumbe. Finally, I would like to thank my parents, Danny and Beth Pulmano, and my sisters, Denise and Danielle Pulmano, for supporting me through these crazy and hectic times. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and holding my hand when I was going through my recovery. Thank you for being sensitive to my needs and my situation.
v Table of Contents Dedication ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... ii Acknowledgements ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... iii Table of Contents ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ v Abstract ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ v i i Tables ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. v iii Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 1 Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 31 Results ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 35 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 38 References ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 48 Appendix A ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 62
vi Tables Table 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 56 Table 2 ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 57 Table 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 58 Table 4 ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 59 Table 5 ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 60
vii PARTNER VIOLENCE AND ITS EFFECTS ON SUBJECTIVE STRESS Paula Pulmano New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a wo rld wide problem. According to t he National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey approximately 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of IPV in their lifetime (Center for Disease and Control 2010). B attering can be life threatening and generate s a great amount of psychological stress. Therefore, battered women must employ certain coping mechanisms t o buffer the psychological impact of abuse. This study investigated the relat ionships between the experience of battering and its effects on subjective stress, how the experience of battering affected coping choices, and had different coping styles affected subjective stress. Results based on the response a reliable relationship between experience with battering and subjective stress and negative forms of emotional coping and st ress. T he results also found that as problem focused and emotional focused coping frequencies increased so did the other form of coping implying that battered women utilize a vas t array of coping methods to buffer psychological impact. Finally, generally women reported using emotional focused coping strategies the most frequently. The results of this study hopefully clear up some myths about battered women and coping, recognizing that not all abused women are completely helpless but do try to find different ways to mediate t heir situations. Also, the results
viii support findings that specific coping styles do affect psychological well being. Further research is needed to study why battered women chose particular coping skills and longitudinal studies can enhance research on more long term coping methods. Dr. Gordon Bauer Division of Psychology
Running head: COPING WITH IPV 1 Violence and its Effects on Subjective Stress strongest there are. Not that women are not strong, because they are, they are the stronger sex. They really are. They have to be. But battered women are the strongest wom Intimate Partner Violence (I PV) refers to any physical, sexual, or psychological abuse encountered by a partner in a relationship (Center for Disease and Control 2010) and has been cited as a serious public health issue (Black et. al 2011; Center for Disease and Control 2010 ; Ellsberg e t al., 2008; Garcia Moreno et al ., 2006; Schafer et. al 1998). It may occur in cases including, but not limited to, dating marital abuse co habiting and non cohabiting partners. This type of abuse can occur in same sex and heterosexual relationships and does not require sexual intimacy, however it is important to acknowledge that sexual abuse and rape can occur in intimate relationships (Center for Disease and Control 2010). Also, partner violence occurs within a spectrum, ranging from occasional verbal abuse to severe battering. geared toward reform. Minority groups including women, African Americans Native Americans, and Hispanics rallied in support of bringing serious change to government
COPING WITH IPV 2 policies and to bring important issues to public attention. Unfortunately, the issue of domestic violence remained priva tized, as one survivor states: In fact from 1970 to 1972 not a single reference to wife beating as a social or community issue was written in T he New York Times (Tiereny, 1982). And according to typical gender roles, women had a er stigmatize d women who wanted to leave ( Ferror & Johnson 1983) As a consequence, there were very few resources and services available for victims and government intervention remained minimal or non existent. Fortunately, women started to come together in response to listening to the experiences of their female friends and family members who were being victimized at home. Soon many women began to mobilize and fight against wife abuse as born. The Bat the issue of wife abuse to the p attention. It fostered confidence and gave validation to victims who wanted to resources and help. Advocates knew that the most immediate way to help these victims was to give them a place to stay away from thei s helter gave immediate short term safe housing accommodations for victims of abuse and re mains one of the most important services still available to survivors and victims today.
COPING WITH IPV 3 Though s ou rces disagree about the location of the first shelter (Conroy 1994; Schechter 1982 p. 56 ), the purpose and the layout of a typical shelter remain s the same today. It is usually a home located in a part of town with a confidential address with numerous bedrooms, a community kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and maybe a pla y area for children. Most women share rooms with other women, causing problems and tension between residents. This community style living can be difficult for a lot of victims but many women appreciate the alternative shelter living to their hostile environment back home, as one survivor stated: food, they give you clothes, they give you the counseling you need, they try to make available to you services that you can get assistance with housing, and everything. They go out of their way to try to make it a good experience and try to make it as muc (Moe, 2007) Unfortunately funding for shelter upkeep, staff, and services was hard to secure In response, volunteers and college students played an important role in keeping these services r unning. Some women even had to house v ictims in their own homes because their shelters became too overcrowded too fast. In light of these difficulties, advocates and feminist lawyers began writing grants, lobbying for support, and asking for funds from various community organizations. At first their efforts were unfruitful. Ma ny people were still advocates and victims began to publicize their experiences, blaming their abuse on male violence and social indifference. B y 1978 19 references on wife abuse appeared in The New York Times topic in the index, demonstrating that society had become more accepting of this issue a s
COPING WITH IPV 4 a social problem (Tiereny 1982). Fortunately, elected officials, foundations, and the community as a whole began to recognize battering as a social issue and began to gi ve their support to the efforts of the M ovement B y 1982 estimates placed between 300 to 700 shelters all over t he United States (Schechter 1982 p. 83 ; Tierney 1982). Problems within the Shelter remain ed chaotic and disorganized. For example, advocates were overwhelmed in finding st aff, distributing funds, and determining the structure of the shelter. On top of that approximately two thirds of the residents were children and very few shelters had enough space to house both women and children (Conroy 1994). While advocates were capa ble of handl ing the physical needs of a victim, they were ill prepared to counsel the emotional needs. They became frustrated when women continuously sought support from the center only to return back to their abusers. So advocates became very discouraged and burn ed out (Conroy 1994). Social workers slowly began getting involved in the Movement, handling crisis counseling and therapy (Conroy 1994). At first, a dvocates were reluctant about allowing clinical social workers to join the ir team and r ecognized the stigmas attached t o seeking counseling crazy Even today many victims respond reluctantly to counseling ; however there are other options for seeking support such as confiding in a friend
COPING WITH IPV 5 Forming the Coalition S poradically and as funding became more readily available, services such as crisis intervention, child care, and counseling became more common to victims of domestic violence However, while intervention methods were important they did not address the main issue: women were still being victimized at home. To tackle this issue, coalitions began to form. For example, in the spring of 1976 in Chicago women gathered to plan a conference that w ould later turn into the Chicago Abused Women Coalition. In the fall o ver 300 women were represented, exchanging stories and discussing suggestions on where the y felt the Movement s hould be headed. The creation of more shelters became a priority but they also identified the need to create multiple task forces, such as the legal task force and the publicity task force, to handle each need more effectively (Schechter 1982 p. 69 ). In th at same year, the Pennsylvania Coalition A gainst Domestic Violen ce began to form. Women all across the state of Pennsylvania drove hundreds of miles to the state capital to testify about pending legislation that would ultimately affect the lives of battered women. By 1982, the coalition was able to hand out approximate ly two million dollars a year in state Title XX funds The grant was given to states to fund certain social service programs, to train advocates, counselors, police, and district justices about the issues of domestic violence and how to handle certain cris es (Schechter 1982 p. 113 ). All across the country different coalitions began to form and women, through conferences and meetings, began to mobilize politically to fight for social reform
COPING WITH IPV 6 Finally, a collective action to form a national coalition was u nder taken. In 1978 the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) was founded in Washington, DC to combat the issues of partner violence across the United States (Schechter 1982 p. 137) What started off as an estimated 100 people coming toget her for a small conference became thousands of members joining the coalition to end violence against women The conference, held in 1980, was the first major step in c alling attention to the need for federal aid to help fight this problem. Today the NCADV continues to work with these issues. Their mission statement is to organize for collective power by advancing transformative work, thinking and leadership of communities and ition Against Domestic Violence 2011 p. 1 ) The NCADV has accomplished this by funding victim services across the United States By hosting a nati onal conference every two years, the coalition is able to address current issues in the movement and also to train and ed ucate educational and awareness raising programs to inform communities about this social problem. The ears representing all victims and survivors of partner violence. The Need for Social Justice Reform It i s not surprising that most marital violence go es underreported (Wilt & Olson, 1996). Before the Movement the police and court system was very biased against battered if they did not see the violence themselves. In fact, police were taught to avoid arrest if
COPING WITH IPV 7 they could by convincing the wife that filing a report would be tedious and court victims appear irresponsible, often por trayed as liars (Schechter 1982) Also, it was very difficult for abused women to obtain a restraining order and even when one was ordered only a handful of those perpetrators who failed to comply with the terms received any legal repercussions. This discouraged many women from seek ing feminist movement While most of the country was combating racism, sexism, and the need for social a nd judicial reform a fight that occurred within our homes remained silent or even i gnored. Many countless women lost their lives to domestic violence before the Movement began and still many c ontinue to lose their lives after. This goes to show that while the Movement has made some progress fighting against violence, the problem has not been solved yet. However, the Movement has made some significant accomplishments. For one it share their stories, and acquire services that can help them leave and recover from this traumatic experience. Collectively and due to the actions of women everywhere, the creation of NCADV and state wide coalitions brought together survivors, advocates, and activists to discuss issues, converse about the where the Movement was headed, and
COPING WITH IPV 8 determine what services and programs were still needed to ensure that victims e verywhere ha d the resources they need ed to address violence. The Problem of Intimate Partner Violence A Problem Back At Home According to t he National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey approximately 5.9 percent of women have experienced at least one form of IPV (rape, physical violence, and/or stalking) in the past 12 months. However, over a lifetime, 35.6 percent of women have experienced IPV (Center for Disease and Control 2010). That means that over 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of physical intimate partner violence in their lifetime. When dealing with psychological abuse nearly 48.4 percent women have experienced some form of psy chological aggression from a partner over a lifetime. These percentages are clearly unacceptable; however the incidents of spousal abuse is severely underreported (Garcia Moreno et al ., 2006 ; Wilt & Olson 1996) so these numbers remain conservative. The survey also found that minority groups experienced more physical violence, rape, and stalkin g, tha n Caucasians. Specifically, 50.4 percent of multi racial women reported physical violence and 53.8 percent of a combination of all three (Center for Disease and Control, 2010). A Problem World Wide The low reporting rates of partner violence underestimate t he extent of how pervasive this issue really is. Especially in cases of male perpetrators and female victims,
COPING WITH IPV 9 data consistently show that women in developing countries also experience high levels of violence, though research in this field is limited (Boy & Kulczycki 2008; Ellsberg et al. 2008; Garcia Moreno et al. 2006). A 2006 World Health Organization study on the prevalence of intimate partner violence found that in less industrial countries like Ethiopia and the Bangladesh, the percentages of physical and sexual violence were incredibly high, almost up to 71 percent. In fact, of the 15 sites in ten countries, most sites reported a prevalence r ate between 30% and 60% which confirms that intimate partner violence happens world wide. Certain countries such as Brazil and Serbia and Mont enegro have high rates of physical violence but relatively low rates of sexual violence. On the other hand, Thai land and Bangladesh display a high frequency of sexual violence but not physical violence. One explanation could be cultural differences in what society views as appropriate means of violence and control and what are not ( Garcia Moreno et al ., 2006 ). But u nderreporting has been a pervasive issue for a long time. It could be that countries that report low rates of one form of violence are merely underreporting it The extensive variation of violence against women in many countries leads us to believe that c ertain cultural factors might play into the acceptance of violence and its alarming rates. Data collected from predominately male dominated societies such as those in North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America show that there are many cas es when peopl e feel it may be unjust to hit women; however there are also certain situations in these areas where wife beating may be appropriate (Douki et al. 2003 ; Haj Yahia 2002; Vandello & Cohen 2003 ; Yoshioka et al. 2001).
COPING WITH IPV 10 For instance, Vandello and Cohen (2005) reported two studies of male honor and female fidelity with a sample of Latin American and North American participants. In study one, researchers found that the husband was seen as less honorable if his wife had delity reflected more negatively on the man than it did on the wife so in order to regain honor punishing the wife through physical violence was tolerable. When the participants were asked how they felt about the violence Brazilian men tended to view spo usal abuse as more acceptable and even encouraged it if the wife was perceived as being unfaithful. However, when asked explicitly if this act was justifiable the Brazilian sample did not approve of the abuse. It seems that the Brazilian men were more likely to excuse the husband for his actions or, at the very least, stigmatize him less. The second study also found that Hispanics and southern Anglos not only expected women victims of abuse to stay with their abusers but also expected them to remain loyal. They also expressed more tolerance toward aggressive men. These two studies found that in certain strong culture of infidelity may provide justification for violence and if violence occurs her loyalty to her a buser is expected (Vandello & Cohen 2003). In Arab societies, spousal abuse is still strongly viewed as a private problem and i n area s the prospects of a woman trying to leave an abusive relationship is generally slim to none. There is a serious risk of becoming ostracized from society since government aid i s inadequate and neglect by family is common (Douki et al. 2003; Haj Yahia 2002).
COPING WITH IPV 11 Also, certain Asian countries such as China, Korea, Cambodia, and Vietnam were found to accept certain acts of spousal abuse as appropriate. Typically, Asian groups that strongly endorsed male privilege were more likely to use justifications for ab use and less likely to endorse alternative s to violence such as divorce or moving away. For instance, in a sample of 72 participants, Vietnam showed the highest percentage of agreement with statements such ide as like infidelity (54.4 percent) to justify wife abuse. In a sample of 69 participants from Cambodia, part icipants showed high tolerance for violence in certain situations such as refusing to cook and clean the house (43.5 percent) or telling thei r husban incompetent (38.3 percent). Interestingly, a population of 251 Chinese participants scored relatively low in approving certain reasons for violence but they also scored the lowest in endorsing any form of alternative shou ld a wife find herself in an abusive situation. The 11.1 percent said that wife beating is grounds for divorce (Yoshioka et al. 2001). So while the Chinese population may not openly advocate wife abuse they also show very little support for alternatives for the victim. Rationalizing the Violence One of the most puzzling aspects of wife abuse is why so many women choose to had the opportunity to leave. Ferror and Johnson (1983) distinguished six general reasons women rationalizes staying in their relationships: the appeal to the sa lvation ethic, the denial of the
COPING WITH IPV 12 victimizer, the denial of injury, the denial of victimization, the denial of options, and the appeal to higher loyalties. The appeal to the salvation. This gave grounds to women who had a desire to service others, especi abuser: brothers and sister s, he was the only one they gave away. So I thought that he was (Mills, 1985) The denial of the victimizer. The victim can also choose to extend the responsibility of the violence to other external forces, forces that cannot be controlled. This relieves the victim the burden of trying to change the abuser, trying to change the direction of the abuse, or trying to c hange her behaviors (according to her abuser) would prevent the abuse. The denial of injury A victim can deny implicitly being victimized because they feel they do not need hospitalization or their ideas of battered women do not conform to their situatio n: fear become obsessive for me rather than there really being something to be afraid as I though (Mills, 1985)
COPING WITH IPV 13 The denial of victimization. It is also common for battered women to blame themselves for the battering. Abusers are likely to use psychologically abusive tactics to shift the responsibility from them selves to their victims. Therefore, psychological effects of abuse can last for a long time. Often, even after women leave their relationships, they may still believe that they brought some of the abuse on to themselves. The denial of options The fourth justification deals with available coping options, both practical and emotional. This reason has been the most consistent with many researchers stating tangible and emotional barriers as the main reason why women could not leave their abusers ( Anderson et al., 2003; Davis, 2002; Ferror & Johnson, 1983; Strube & Barbour, 1983). The victim may not have the necessary tools needed to leave the abusive relationship such as a place to stay or may live in fear of retaliation. The appeal to higher loy alties. Finally, the appeal to higher loyalties uses religious or traditional beliefs to remain in the relationship. For instance, the Christian belief that women should serve their husbands under God would rationalize enduring the violence (Ferror & Johns on, 1983). The Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Women The stress of living with abuse can be exhausting. Research on psychological and physical effects of partner violence has become more prevalent because we are starting to see more women willing to talk about their experiences However, societies still continue to victim blame and are ignorant about domestic violence issues, coping methods and the recovery process, and the impact of abuse in gener al.
COPING WITH IPV 14 Learned Helplessness In 1975, Seligman and his colleagues made an interesting discovery when they repeatedly and noncontingently shocked lab animals. They found that the animals who were shocked were unable to mobilize themselves from escaping the s ituation although animals who did not receive the helplessness treatment were able to escape themselves. This became known as the learned helplessness theory, a theory used to explain why some women stay in abusive relationships for as long as they have ( Walker, 1984) The the ory proposes that after making efforts to control the violence and recognizing little to no effect, over time battered women will experience helplessness and depression, much like the shocked lab animals, and will lose motivation to t ry to proactively respond to the abuse (Walker, 1984). In order to break learned helplessness, a victim must reach a point where the nt being and the well being of her relationship. When this peak is reached, learned helplessness should decrease and overtime fear, depression, and symptomology related to l earned helplessness should be replaced with anger, disgust, and a willing ness to see k help (Walker 1984), as one victim recounts: again, and I got some kitchen plates and hit him in the head. Then he went and got (Mills, 1985)
COPING WITH IPV 15 Learned helplessness has also been associated with certain mental disorders. Bargai et. al (2007) found that learned helplessness mediated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression disorder (MDD) with regards to an abusive relationship. The study also found that environmental, cultural, and educational influences negatively affe cted proactive forms of coping such as positive thinking and seeking social support. The researchers stated that male dominated cultural influences, in particular, contributed to this because women were taught to be submissive ; by failing to promote suppo rtive and effective coping skills they furthered the likelihood of women survivors and victims from developing PTSD or MDD. The Survivor Theory Critiques of the learned helplessness theory claim that it relies too heavily on individual psychopathology and not enough on the grounds of social and culture structures (Bargai et al. 2007) and fails to consider the resources available for the survivor (Flannery & Harvey 1991). For instance, inadequate and inaccessible resources for police protection, employm ent, financial support, and legal referrals might convince women to stay with their abuser. Gondolf and Fisher (1988) propose an alternative theory called the Survivor Theory (p. 11) an d battered women use different mental coping techniques to buffer the psychological impact of the abuse and are more likely to increase help seeking as abuse increases. But the amount of help seeking is also mediated by the number of resources available,
COPING WITH IPV 16 commitment to the relationship, the number of children she has, and previous abuse history (Gondolf & Fisher, 1988; Mitchell & Hodson 1983) An example of this strategy i s mini miz that bad In their shelter sample of severely abused women, Gondolf and Fisher (1988) found that women actively tried to get help by calling the police, visiting an emergency room, and seeking legal assistance. This assertive and persistent attempt to leave supports the survivor theory. Davis (2002) also found support for this theory when he interviewed women in shelters about their experiences and coping strategies He found that all of his participants viewed themselves as survivors rather than victims and showed extreme courage when handling their situations. Having the ability to talk about their experiences not only validated their abuse but also empowered th em as survivors of such a terrible ordeal. The women also showed great trust in themselves in both people and situations, and also in their resilience to endure hard and uncomfortable situations. He also found t hat survival was a key theme in their stories; using their common sense, finding resources, continuing their education, and planning their escape: there was a way, you know, whe except to keep my friends and my mom updated. And just to hide the money. And
COPING WITH IPV 17 I knew I was going to do it. I knew there wa s going to come a day, and I guess I Physical and Mental Effects Research has found that battered women are more likely to experience poor physical and mental health than the general population (Center for Disease and Control, 2010) Physical injuries from abuse, such as bruises, fractures, sprains, and abrasions are treated commonly in emergency rooms ( Center for Disease and Control, 2010; Dutton 2006 ) however a combination of physical injuries with stress can lead to chronic health problems such as chronic pain, sleep deprivation or insomnia. Those that experience intimate partner sexual assault are more likely to suffer from gynecol ogical problems including obtaining a sexually transmitted disease, vaginal bleeding or infection, and urinary tract infections (Campbell 2002 ; Center for Disease and Control, 2010 ). According to Campbell ( 2002), women exposed to both physical and sexual abuse are three times more likely to experience health problems than those only exposed to physical abuse. E xperiencing abuse while pregnant can result in low birth weight, premature labor, and a number of f etal complications (Dutton 2006 ). Psychologically, victims are more likely to suffer from depression, experience posttraumatic stress disorder (Bargai et. al, 2007; Center for Disease and Control, 2010) commit suicide, and abuse substances such as drugs and alcohol. Also, psychological abuse (Dutton 2006 ) and sexual violence (Bargai et al., 2007) are major determinant s of PTSD P sychological abuse was found to be a sign ificant predictor in deciding to
COPING WITH IPV 18 leave/stay in an abusive relationship, even when physical abuse was controlled (Arias & Pape, 1999). Stress and Coping Stress is a nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it (Kalat, 2009) In this definition, a stressor would be the demand In the case of abusive relationship, a stressor would be the abuser and the stress would include any physical or psychological response of the body that responds to the stressor. Battered women experience a great load of psychological and physical stress T his could include controlling behavio rs, cuts and bruises managing coping strategies, and balancing their needs with the needs of their batterers : a whore, Th sleep on the floor. So, I slept on the floor for two weeks. If I would pull a blanket ( Mills, 1985) (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, p. 23). According to the researchers, there are two types of appraisal: primary and secondary. Primary appraisal distinguishes wheth er a situation poses a threat or not. If a threat is acknowledged, then secondary appraisal determines what a person can do about it and how successful that action might be in dealing with the stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, p. 32 35).
COPING WITH IPV 19 There is no ques tion that abused women go through turmoil and stress. Some describe daily life as walking on egg shells, constantly feeling on edge and aware (Eisikovits et al., 1998; Davis, 2002; Zink et al., 2006) Every move they made had to be made carefully. But no m atter what they did they could never predict the actions of their batterers, as one woman recounts: angry at me. I was hoping that he would have no reason to fight and that the Emotional and Problem Focused Coping In dealing with psychological stress, different coping strate gies have bee n used (Davis, 2002; Terry, 1994 ). Coping refers to actions and thoughts that people do to avoid being harmed by stress ( Pearlin & Schooler, 1978). Many efforts at categorizing coping styles have been attempted but generally coping styles hav e fallen into two categories: problem focused and emotional focused coping. For the purpose of this study problem focused coping is conceptua lized as behaviors that are focused on correcting or changing the problem Examples include help seeking, seeking support from friends and family, and problem solving. In contrast, emotion focused coping uses strategies such as avoidance, minimization, and distancing, to buffer the impact of psychological trauma when a situatio n is appraised to have no chance of positively altering an event. Coping Mechanisms, Psychological Well being, and Mental Health
COPING WITH IPV 20 It seems that emotional focused coping plays a special role in psychological well being. It is, after all, coping that relies on mediating the psyche. But how useful and beneficial is this strategy ? To investigate this question Bauman et al. (2008) recruited 406 women and interviewed them about their coping styles and experience with abuse. The researchers developed their own qu Dealing with IPV Effects Questionnaire used to cope with intimate partner violence. According to this study, prayer and efforts to become more independent were reported as the most helpful coping method. Other strategies that were rated as helpful included methods of self care, social support, and emotion al expression. Negative problem focused coping strategies, such as using drugs or alcohol or taking their frustrations and a nger out on other people were reported as the least helpful coping styles The study also found an inverse relationship between strategy use and perceived helpfulness. Negative forms of emotional focused coping suc h as avoidance and minimization were rep orted as being used quite frequently but the women also reported these techniques to be not as helpful. It may be because these strategies do not confront the problem of abuse but instead avoid the reality of the situation (Bauman et al., 2008). Although these forms of coping can be beneficial in the immediate, if the women continue to live in this false sense of reality then they will never find a reason to terminate the relationship. Researchers assumed that their participants were unaware of the most e ffect ive strategies in dealing with the abuse and were instead using as many forms of coping as they could. This is understandable seeing as in times of desperation people will try almost anything to alleviate the stress but this can also cause some harmful effects Conversely, prayer and efforts to be more
COPING WITH IPV 21 independent were reported being frequently used and very helpful in mediating their stressors. We can infer that believing in a higher power to help you deal with such a stressful and terrible expe rience is beneficial especially if someone has exhausted all one of their participants state s : nd I said, well, Lord, you say in the Bible that a woman is like a crown jewel and I started Also, independence has been one of the key variables in determining whether a woman is ready to leave her abuser or not (Anderson, 2003). As noted later, environmental and financial factors influence how and when victims can leave. Without a safe place to stay, some basic need s met, and proper documentation kept, it would be very difficult for someone to uproot their lifestyle and begin a new one. As stated before, battering can also cause some serious long term psychological effects. A plethora of researc h has been done to try and study the effects of coping styles a disorder distinctively diagnosed to abused women. The syndrome co exists with symptoms of PTSD which is logical considering the level of trauma that some women face. Lilly and Graham Bermann (2010) went further and found results that support negative emotional focused coping to be connected to PTSD symptomology. They interviewed 97 self identi fied female battered participants and asked them questions about their violence exposure, PTSD symptomology, and coping
COPING WITH IPV 22 style. Results show ed a high correlation between problem focused and emotional focused coping but only emotional focused coping was sign ificantly correlated with PTSD from which impies that emotional focused coping has some unique characteristics that impact psychological well being. Lilly and Graham Bermann (2010) also found that participants who reported using more emotion focused copin g were exposed to more violence and generally were at a higher risk of developing PTSD. However, participants who were exposed to more violence and used less emotion focused coping showed the greatest PTSD symptomology The researchers implied that these women might low rates of use of using all forms of coping and inferred that the emotion focused coping was not sufficient enough to help the victim deal with the level of violence ; however that inference would contradict better explanation might be that participants used less helpful emotional focused coping strategies which in turn mediated less stress and caused more signs of PTSD. But as at high risk need to find more proactive methods of coping (hopefully leading to the termination of the relationship) if they feel that their life is in danger. Lilly and Graham Bermann (2010) also concluded that d uring times of low to medium levels of vi olence, emotional focused coping strategies might be sufficient enough to buffer psychological consequences therefore women who are exposed to more violence might engage in most frequent coping behaviors (whether it be problem or emotional focused ) Mitc hell and Hodson (1983) also recognized a pattern between coping style and mental health. These researchers examined coping styles, violence, and psychological wellbeing. The researchers distributed a questionnaire to 60 women who sought shelter
COPING WITH IPV 23 services. T hey measured stress (frequency and level of violence), personal resources, social support, institutional responses, coping, and adjustment (which included three sub measures of depression, mastery, and self esteem). They found that increased levels of vio lence, minimal personal resources, lack of institutional and social support, and avoidant coping mechanisms were related to low self esteem and severe depressive symptoms. Their results support the theory that environmental influences can impact the psych ological adjustment of battered women ( Anderson et. al, 2003) More importantly, avoidant coping was strongly negatively correlated with mastery and self esteem and strongly positively correlated with depression, suggesting that this form of negative emoti onal focused coping can place a heavy burden on emotional recovery. More so, positive forms of coping such as active behavioral (a form of positive problem focused coping) and active cognitive (a form of positive emotional focused coping) had opposite corr elations, indicating that positive forms of coping can be beneficial to emotional recovery. The study also found that women who had more social support also had higher levels of mastery and self esteem and experienced lower levels of depression. But respon such that those who reported support systems that empa th ized with the abuser or avoided all discussion about the abuse also reported higher levels of depression and lower lev els of mastery and self esteem. Lewis et al. (2006) did a similar study, exploring the different effects of adult and childhood abuse, coping style, and psychological adjustment in battered women seeking shelter support. They hypothesized that coping meas ures will not be cemented in a stereotypical coping style but will be mixed and varied based on the individual and
COPING WITH IPV 24 the situation. They also hypothesi zed that depression will escalat e with increase d violence and that prior abuse will contribute to the effe cts of the current violence, especially in psychological adjustment. To test these hypotheses, researchers identified 102 female residents from two inner city domestic violence shelters and interviewed them about their abuse, signs of depression, psychological trauma, and childhood trauma. As predicted, their sample reported a mix of coping styles that often diverged from proactive strategies and relied more heavily on situationally responsive methods to their hypothesis, most women engaged in wishful thinking, problem solving, and blame deflection and disengaged socially as violence escalated. They inferred that women engaged in detachment under severe physical abuse allowing for them to buffer the psychological impact of being battered by a loved one. Also, social withdrawal may have been necessary especially if the abuser kept tight control and a keen eye on t he daily interactions methods of coping such as avoidance or minimization. One woman describes how her batter er forced her to withdraw from her social circle: see each other professionally a lot. All that has had to stop since we married. (Mills, 1985) Unfortunately, this type of control is not uncommon. Abusive husbands were social circles, as another victim states:
COPING WITH IPV 25 (Mills, 1985) However, the researcher s were quick to note that the women they defined as of utilizing proactive measures especially in cases where their lives were at risk claim. Their results found that abused women were more likely to use private coping strategies than public strategies but eventually move d on to more public he lp seeking as violence increased However, their sample did report that placating and resisting strategies were used most frequently even though they found them to be the least helpful. Finally, Clements and Sawheny (2000) inves tigated the influence of coping styles on control attributions, dysphoria, and hopelessness. They hypothesized that battered women who report dysphoria will also report hopelessness and will view their battering as uncont rollable, making external attributions for the abuse. This which relieves the victim the burden of trying to change the direction of the abuse. They also hypothesized tha t emotional focused coping would be associated with increased levels of dysphoria and problem focused coping will be associated with decreased levels of dysphoria. The researchers collected and analyzed data from 70 female shelter residents. Measures inclu ded abuse severity and frequency, coping, depression symptomology, hopelessness and control attributions and expectations. The study found no relationship between abuse severity, dysphoria, and hopelessness. However, Clements and Sawheny (2000) found that expectations for
COPING WITH IPV 26 control over future abuse episodes were high regardless of their low expectations for controlling current abusive episodes. This could be due to the shelter sample since women seeking shelter have already made a significant step in contr olling hypothesis between emotional focused coping, problem focused coping, and dysphoria were supported. Participants who reported using more avoidance coping or self blame were more likely to report dysphoria suggesting that problem focused strategies were more beneficial than emotional focused ones. Consistent with other research (Billing & Moos, 1984), this study also found that problem focused mechanisms were related to increased hopefulness, suggesting that intervention strategies that target the abuse are advantageous. In fact Sabina and Tindale (2008) found that help seeking, order of protection, and attempts to stay away or leave t he abuser increased as harassment and control increased. Problem focused coping also increased in relation to the most severe event, suggesting that the most severe abusive event could have triggered the vic tim to seek more protective services. These findings are consistent with Gondolf to abuse by engaging in help seeking behaviors. The study also found that as severity intensi fied so did participant reliance on social support. Social support is confidence and self esteem, and might be a source for tangible resources such as providing a safe place to sta proposed that independence was a major factor when deciding when to leave a
COPING WITH IPV 27 relationship and that having access to social support systems can lead women to that. However, other studies have found an inver se relationship (Mitchell and Hodson 1983), claiming that most abusers who become more abusive isolate and control their victims, forcing the victims to withdraw from social support (Lewis et al., 2006). Finally, the researchers found that while participan ts seldom pursued or obtained any order of protection, those who were severely abused and experienced more control and power tactics did purse this action. This suggests that there is a fear amongst battered women to pursue any legal charges because it inc reases the lethality of the situation. Abusers might get angrier, attempt more violent acts, or try to coerce the victim into not pursuing any legal remedies. Also, we have to consider what happens to the victim if the justice system fails them But appare ntly women who have undergone extreme levels of abuse are willing to take their chances with the legal system. They might assume that since they are already in a terrible situation, what could be worse? Most studies recruit participants from battered women shelters or include violence only perpetrated within a marriage. However, intimate partner violence encompasses a wide spectrum of abuse including dating violence, co habiting partners, and non cohabiting partners (Center for Disease and Control, 2010). T herefore, studies recruiting victims from other sources such as colleges, self help groups, and other organizations can prove beneficial to the field. Because of convenience sampling, researchers have delved into studying college dating violence and have f ound similar results to shelter samples.
COPING WITH IPV 28 For instance, Coffet et al. (1996) studied the psychological impact of dating violence and methods of coping with psychological adjustment in a sample of 974 female college students. Researchers specifically wanted to see if dating violence victims experienced more psychological distress than non victims and if coping mediated that adjustment. Also, the study examined coping mechanisms utilized in both violent and nonviolent situations and if those choices differed between comparison groups. The researchers used measures of dating violence, sexual aggression, childhood experience with violence, current psychological adjustment, and methods of coping. The results of the study found that women who experienced dating vi olence were more prone to poorer psychological distress, specifically when disengagement coping was used, compared to the non victimized group. These study found that even in a non shelter, non marital population, violence within an intimate relationship can still result in psychological distress. Finally, the study observed that women who disengaged in their violent relationships were more likely to disengage when handling o ther life stressors. The non victimized group tended to appraise more stressful situations as controllable and thus would not use disengagement coping as often. A similar study proposed by Pape and Arias (1995) investigated the role of control and coping in mediating the relationship between violent events and the which proposes that coping strategies that match cognitive appraisals of control will influence psychological health and well be ing. Situations appraised as controllable, for
COPING WITH IPV 29 instance, will most likely encourage problem focused coping mechanisms. However, if a situation is appraised as uncontrollable, then emotional focused coping may be more beneficial. T he researchers even went further anticipating that coping styles compatible with their cognitive appraisals would result in less distress for the participants. To test these hypotheses, researchers recruited 122 female students at a large university. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire measuring conflicted resoluyion psychological symptomology, and coping. Supportive of the literature (Bauman et al., 2008; Calvete et al. 2008; Mitchell and Hodson, 1983), the study found a strong association between prob lem and emotional focused coping and distress levels, inferring that as distress increased so did the frequency of coping styles. However, they also found that controllability did not influence coping style or distress, at least with this sample. It is im portant to note that because Pape and Arias (1995) did not specifically use battered women in their study some participants may have experienced less severe forms of violence which could have influenced their reaction to the controllability of the abuse. The Present Study The current study examined the relationships between experience of battering and its effects on subjective stress, whether the experience of batt ering affected choices of coping, and if different coping styles affected subjective stress The literature has examined coping using a broad range of coping categories, however in this study we will be looking at positive and negative forms of specific coping style s as well as using a scale
COPING WITH IPV 30 that measures the overall experience of abuse, not jus t frequency and severity of specific attacks. I anticipate that as women experience more severe forms of abuse they are more likely to experience subjective stress (Lilly & Graham Bermann, 2010) and utilize more forms of coping (Baumen et al., 2008; Pape a nd Arias, 1995). Research reports consistently that emotional forms of coping, specifically negative forms, affect psychological well being detrimentally ( Bauman et al., 2008; Calvete et al. 2008; Clements and Sawheny, 2000; Coffet et al., 1996; Goodman et al., 2003; Lewis et al., 2006 ; Lilly and Graham Bermann, 2010; Mitchell and Hodson, 1983; Pape and Arias, 1995) Thus, I hypothesize that subjective stress will increase when negative forms of emotional focused coping are used more frequently. Yet studies have observed that problem focused coping strategies relay the opposite effects, yielding beneficial effects to emotional recovery such as higher levels of mastery, more self esteem, lower depression (Mitchell and Hodson, 1983), and lower levels of hopel essness (Clements and Sawheny, 2000). This form of coping is also the most helpful when deciding to terminate a relationship ( Sabina and Tindale, 2008). Therefore, it is expected that positive forms of problem focused coping such as help seeking and recei ving social support will be associated with decrease d subjective stress. Finally, I anticipate that emotional focused coping techniques will be more frequently reported than problem focused techniques. Bauman et al. (2008) reported that even though victim s rated emotional focused forms of coping to be less useful, they reported utilizing them. This type of coping is available instantaneously (the woman only needs to summon the appropriate techniques from her psyche) and might be beneficial temporarily but it does not address the problem and
COPING WITH IPV 31 might even hinder the victim from recognizing that there is a problem to begin with. This in turn will keep the woman in the abusive relationship until she realizes th at there is a problem and t akes appropriate steps to mediate or end the relationship. Method Participants Over the course of the month of January 2012 and half of the month of February 2012 adult women from Sarasota, Florida were recruited at the Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC), a battered and rape crisis shelter. Recruitment included being present at the shelter three times a week for three hours a day, allowing poten m tial participants to build trust with the researcher which made the women more comfortable about talking and disclo sing their personal experiences. However, at the beginning of February recruitment had to be cut to only on ce a week for three hours for a day to personal reasons. To be included in the study, participants had to have experienced some form of intimate par tner violence (IPV) in a heterosexual relationship within the past 12 months. Potential participants were asked if they would participate in a survey and 21 women responded. One survey was excluded because the participant reported on a same sex relationshi p, resulting in a sample of 20 women. Seventy five percent of the participants identified as Caucasian, 10 percent identified as African American, 5 percent identified as Asian 5 percent identified as Hispanic, and one person did not identify at all. The age ranged from 21 to 60 years old. 30 percent of the women reported having attended some college with one participant
COPING WITH IPV 32 completing vocational or technical school and 33 percent reported obtaining their high school diploma or GED. The length of their most recent abusive relationship varied; some for a couple months and others over a span of a couple years. Participants had a range of abuse experience; however most women experienced mildly severe to severe abuse. Women from shelters are usually experiencing the most severe forms of abuse and technically they arrive at the shelter because they are in fear for their life a nd t he lives of their children. With that being said, 85 percent of women reported having brought children with them to the shelter (Table 1). M easures Respondents completed a questionnaire packet containing measures of experience of battering, subjective str ess, coping styles, and demographics (Appendix A) Experience with Battering (IPV). Battering Scale (WEB) (Smith et al.1995) is a 10 question survey with a 6 point Likert scale (1 = agree strongly, 2 = agree somewhat, 3 = agree a little, 4 = disagree a little, 5 = disagree somewhat, 6 = disagree strongly). I asked participants to describe their relationships with if they did not have a current par tner, answer the questions based on the most recent one. Unlike the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus et al., 1995) which measures the frequency and severity of abuse, the WEB scale quantifies the level of psychological vulnerability women experience in their abusive relationships (Coker et psychological battering (Coker et al., 2001). Slight modifications were made to the scale
COPING WITH IPV 33 to add clarity and to separate double barreled q uestions, resulting in a total of 14 ore of 28 or higher indicated a positive screening for battering. An overall Cronbach alpha score was calculated ( = 0.90) which demonstrates good internal reliability. Subjective stress. The Impact of Event Scale (Weiss & Marmar, 1996) is a 22 item quest ionnaire based on a 4 point Likert scale (0 = not at all; 1 = a little bit; 2 = moderately; 3 = quite a bit; 4 = extremely). The original scale by Horowitz et al. (1979) was generally used to assess for PTSD and although the revised version cannot be used as a diagnostic tool, it is sensitive enough to measure probable symptoms of PTSD. Therefore, for the purpose of this study, I compared this scale to studies that measure psychological distress such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression. I asked participants to indicate how distressing each statement ha d been during the past seven days with respect A sum sc ore from the total scale was generated with scores closer to 0 indicating no distress and scores closer to 88 indicating very severe distress. This survey had good internal reliability (Cronbach = 0.89) Coping mechanism. The Ways of Coping Questionnaire Revised (Folkman et al. 1986) was used to measure both problem focused and emotion focused styles of stress. It is a 66 question questionnaire using a four point Likert scale ( 0 = not used; 1 = used somewhat; 2 = used quite a bit; 3 = used a great deal). I asked participants to indicate to
COPING WITH IPV 34 what extent they used each coping style within their abusive relationship. Slight grammar modifications were made in this scale to add clarity and double barreled questions were separated, resulting in a total of 70 quest And according to Folkman et al.(1986), an emotion focused score was generated by finding the mean score of the subscales associated with escape avoidance, distancing coping, positive reappraisal and self controlling. Further division of the coping style was divided in to negative forms (escape avoidance, distancing, self controlling) and positive forms (positive reappraisal). A problem focused score was also generated by finding the mean score of the subscales associated with confrontive coping, seeking social support planful problem solving and accepting responsibility Further division of this coping style was also divided into negative forms (accepting responsibility) and positive forms (confrontive coping, seeking social support, planful problem solving). Scores pe r subsection were acquired by finding their means. A score closer to 0 indicated lack of coping usage while a score closer to 3 indicated frequent coping usage. This scale also had good reliability ( Cronbach Demographics: I asked questions about age, race/ethnicity and gender, the gender of the batterer, number of children level of education, length of the most recent abusive relati independent incom e. Questions were left open ended
COPING WITH IPV 35 Procedure they would participate in a study measuring abuse, stress, and coping mechanisms. They were informed that the survey would take up to 45 minutes but most participants completed the questionnaires in about 10 minutes. Participants chose a comfortable spot to take the survey. Most women had to be in view of their children since residents could not leave their child alone or out of sight. This resulted in most women takin g the survey in public areas, for example the living room or kitchen, where children and other residents were walking by. However, residents and staff were respectful to participants partaking in the survey and caused little to no interruptions. Residents were told that some of the questions were very personal and that if they felt uncomfortable they could refuse to answer a question or stop participating at any time. A staff member or advocate was always on site to talk to the participant in case something triggering occurred and the resident wanted to talk about it. A debriefing was conducted after each participant completed the study. Participants were not compensated but were told that the research would be presented in front of a college audience which would hopefully debunk some of the myths about abused women. Fortunately, most participants were willing to participate in this study for that sole purpose. Results Descriptive Statistics e with Battering Scale was 72.85 out 84 with a range of 29 to 84. This suggests that women
COPING WITH IPV 36 participating in this study did in fact experience mild to severe battering, with most women reporting severe battering. The overall mean of subjective stress as sco red by the Impact of Events Scale was 63.8 out of 88 with a range of 26 to 83. This suggests that women did experience medium to high levels of subjective stress while in their abusive relationships. Correlations with Coping Variables The data were analy zed using a two tailed Pearson correlation between variables of experience with battering, impact of battering, problem focused coping both positive and negative, and emotional focused coping both positive and negative. An alpha level of 0.05 was used for statistical analyses. Although it did not reach statistical significance a t the 0.05 level, I did find a correlation between experience of battering and subjective stress v ( r = 0.39, p = 0.09, df = 18). Similarly, although not statistically significant at the 0.05 level, I also found a reliable correlation between subjective stress and negative emotional focused coping ( r = 0.39, p = 0.08, df = 18). A subsequent power analysis identified a low probability of detecting a population effect The power with a sample size of 20 was 0.42, which identified less than 50% in detecting a real effect. But had I recruited 50 participants, our degree of power would have gone up to 0.80, a reliable power for detecting an effect if an effect truly exists. Specifically, pr evious literature indicated correlations between battering and stress to range from 0.31 to 0.42 ( Calvete et al. 2008; Lilly & Graham Bermann, 2010; Mitchell & Hodson, 1983) and correlations between a decrease in psychological well being and negative forms of emotional focused coping ranged from
COPING WITH IPV 37 0.30 to 0.57 (Calvete et al., 2008; Coffey et al., 1996; Mitchell & Hodson, 1983). Our study found correlations falling within this range. This might imply that had we recruited the necessary number of participants our study would have detected the effect. However, I did not find reliable correlations between experience of battering and either coping styles and the impact of battering, problem focused coping, and positive emotional focused coping. An analysis between specific coping styles found a significant correlation between positive problem focused coping and positive emotional focused coping ( r = 0.59, p < 0.01, df = 18). I also found a correlation between negative emotional focused coping and negative pr oblem focused coping ( r = 0.52, p < 0.05, df = 18). When participants engaged in positive emotional focused coping they tended to engage in less negative problem focused coping styles ( r = 0.54, p < 0.01, df = 18) (Table 2) Overall, the study did find a strong correlation between problem focused coping and emotional focused coping such that an increase in one particular type of coping also indicated an increase in the other ( r = 0.57, p < 0.01, df = 18) (Table 3) Specific Coping Frequencies Participants reported using certain coping skills frequently emotional go away or somehow be o
COPING WITH IPV 38 Participants also reported coping mechanisms of which were in frequently used average score, 1.05, meani ng that women engaged in this coping style rarely (Table 4). An overview of all coping statements and their mean scores can be found in Table 5. Discussion This study examined the role of coping in relation to experience with battering and subjective stress. My first hypothesis anticipated an i ncrease in subjective stress as experience of battering grew more severe. My results did find a strong positive correlation between the two variables; however it did not reach significance at the 0.05 level. The effect range was similar to previous studies ( Calvete et al. 2008; Lilly& Graham Bermann, 2010; Mitchell &Hodson, 1983) although the power was low For example, Lilly and Graham Bermann (2010) found similar results with a larger sample size such that participants who were more exposed to violence d id report using more emotional focused coping strategies. Victims who are frequently and severely battered are exposed to more violence and abuse and thus are exposed to more stress. Unlike non violent couples, women in violent relationships are constantl y anticipating the next attack and feel ing like they need to plan every move they make carefully, a dding to that are stressors from the outside such
COPING WITH IPV 39 as work, children, or finances. This can lead to an overwhelming amount of pressure that can consume a vict hatever it (Mills, 1985) My second hypothesis predicted that subjective stress would be higher when ne gative forms of emotional focused coping are used more frequently. Again, the results did not achieve statistical significance at the 0.05 level, however there was a reliable positive correlation The effect range was similar to previous studies ( Bauman et al., 2008; Calvete et al. 2008; Clements & Sawheny, 2000; Coffey et al., 1996; Goodman et al., 2003; Lewis et al., 2006; Lilly & Graham Bermann, 2010; Mitchell & Hodson, 1983; Pape and Arias, 1995) even though the power was low, recognizing that abused women tend to use emotional focused coping strategies for their immediate results, safety, and convenience. Women do not need to involve a physical third party to utilize these coping techniques, they can shy away from the abuser knowing that they are coping in this way (Lewis et al., 2006), and it can be strictly internalized, allowing the victim to control what types of coping styles they want to use. With specific forms of coping, let u s take minimization as an example; the victim can really dam age herself by continuously minimizing the severity of the abuse which
COPING WITH IPV 40 could prolong her staying in the relationship can focused coping specifically avoidance and minimization are not beneficial to psychological health (Bauman et al., 2008) causing more psychological distress and signs of deterior ating mental health (Clements and Sawheny, 2000; Coffet et al., 1996; Lilly and Graham Bermann, 2010; Mitchell an d Hodson, 1983). While in the short term this form of coping may prevent the victim from psychologically breaking down, long term consequences may actually allow the victim to stay longer in the abusive relationship by not acknowledging the true severity of the abuse: was. I was ignoring a lot of signs even though (Mills, 1985) The longer the victims stays the more prone she is to being re victimized and the less likely she is to terminate the relationship. My third hypothesis anticipated that an increase in the frequency of problem fo cused c oping methods would result in lower subjective stress. The results did not support this hypothesis which contradicts numerous findings from the literature ( Bauman et al., 2008; Calvete et al. 2008; Clements and Sawheny, 2000; Lewis et al., 2006 ; Mitchell and Hodson, 1983). One possible explanation for this could be due to the mood of some of the participants before they were asked to take the questionnaire. For example, most of the women who had taken the survey had just gotten into the shelter and were
COPING WITH IPV 41 juggling a lot of responsibilities. One woman agreed to participate however she had just arrived with her kids, was confused about where she was going to stay in the future, worried about her husband finding out where she had gone, and coping wit h the memories of the abuse. She told me that she did no t know if going to the shelter was the right move for her and her family and that she felt like she had to make all these decisions (finding a job, finding a new place to stay, and filing for an injun ction) relatively soon. Obviously, this woman was overly stressed affecting her mood and perception of help seeking, which might have influenced her responses to the survey such that she felt severe subjective stress. Unfortunately, this problem is not un common. Worrying about too many problem focused strategies (such as getting a job) may at first seem overwhelming but results from previous research ( Bauman et al., 2008; Calvete et al. 2008; Clements and Sawheny, 2000; Lewis et al., 2006 ; Mitchell and Ho dson, 1983) has strongly acknowledge d that positive problem focused copin g strategies such as help seeking can be beneficial for the victim by lowering su bjective stress in the long run and ultimately relieving the battered woman from the abuser. Final ly, my last hypothesis proposed that emotional focused coping would be more frequently used than problem focused coping techniques. My hypothesis was supported. When analyzing specific coping techniques, positive emotional forms of coping were reported to be used most frequently. Prayer was ultimately the most frequently used coping technique Prayer allows women to be able to speak to worry that the abuser might fi nd out. Prayer can typically be mouthed or said mentally giving the woman a form of secrecy with respect to what she wants to disclose during
COPING WITH IPV 42 prayer. But prayer does not always result in positive thinking. A woman might believe that God is using the abuse as a means of punishing her and might pray for salvation but might not make any active steps toward terminating her situation, as presented in the appeal to higher loyalties (Ferror & Johnson, 1983). Again, the research reports abused women employing negative forms of emotional focused coping commonly. It should be noted that an escape avoidance technique followed prayer very closely suggesting that both forms of emotional focused coping, negative and positive, are used rather frequently. Also, accord ing to Table 4 all of the frequently reported coping mechanisms were emotional focused coping styles, generating the idea once again that emotional focused coping plays a key role in coping with an abusive relationship. Another interesting find ing in my study is that as one form of coping shifted, so did the frequency of the other. Specifically, as positive problem focused coping increased so did positive emotional focused coping. Similarly, as negative problem focused coping decreased and positive probl em focused coping increased. The results also found these patterns with emotional focused coping. This is consistent with prior research (Bauman et al., 2008; Goodman et al., 2003; Lewis et al., 2006 ; Pape & Arias, 1995) which found that as violence incre ased so did the frequency of total coping methods. This suggests that when a victim begins to cope with the incident she is more likely to play with different coping styles and not necessarily stick to one. As noted earlier, women may be living in a franti c hell, trying to do anything to buffer psychological impact. As the results of this study and previous research have shown, emotional focused coping can do that. However, this does not mean that only emotional focused coping techniques are
COPING WITH IPV 43 used to buffer psychological impact. Depending on the situation and the victim, help seeking can prove very beneficial for a victim (Bauman et al., 2008; Calvete et al. 2008; Clements and Sawheny, 2000; Coffet et al., 1996; Lewis et al., 2006 ; Mitchell and Hodson, 1983; Pape and Arias, 1995; Sabina and Tindale, 2008). Ultimately, the goal of coping is to relieve the source of the stress (the abuser) and the only way to do that is to leave the relationship. Findings from this study have supported previous studies on copin g such that negative emotional focused coping were significantly associated with an increase in subjective stress and was reported as the most frequently used coping style also as one form of coping increased so did the other form of coping frequency, s uggesting that abused women use a variety of coping mechanisms in dealing with their abusive partners. However, my results did not find problem focused coping to be negatively correlated with subjective distress a s reported by previous research. Limitations This study has a number of short comings. Methological limitations resulted from this study come from convenience sampling. While recruiting from a shelter sampl e is common in the literature we have to recognize that participants do not represent the entire spectrum of battered women appropriately because women who seek shelter are mostly classified as severe cases and we know that battering and abuse occurs on many different levels. Participants who took this survey had already taken a problem focused coping technique, help seeking, which could have influence d their response to the coping scale.
COPING WITH IPV 44 As stated before, most women who took this survey had just entered the shel ter program and were juggling numerous stressors which could have affected the results. Mood might have influenced their responses to subjective stress, particularly rating respon ses on a higher scale than if I had asked them to participate after having allowed them to get comfortable in the shelter environment. In addition, the environment at which the participants completed their survey somewhat chaotic. People kept coming in an d out of the room, children were visible, and there were many distractions. This could have affected their motivation to complete the survey accurately which would compromise some of the results. However, as stated before, most residents in the shelter we re respectful of those who were completing the survey and distractions, for the most part, were kept at a minimum. Some participants reported the questions being ambiguous. For example, a couple of times a particular coping method was used and the women felt that it did not justify their mportance between coping frequency and coping helpfulness and how these variables can have inverse relationships. Take for example avoidance coping. The participants explained that they constantly kept trying to use coping methods that did not work to reli eve the stress because Furthermore, although we know the directions of the relationships we cannot tell whether emotional focused coping causes an increase in problem focused coping or vice
COPING WITH IPV 45 versa or if some other con founding variable affected it. More sophisticated analysis can help determine the specific relationships between these variables. Finally, the low sample size definitely influenced the results, specifically, with the non significant but reliable correlat ions. I feel that had we recruited sufficient participants, then we would have detected an effect had an effect existed. Unfortunately, time and constraints prevented me from reaching a large sample size, however if this study were to be done again it wou ld have to be over the course of a couple months, s to encompass a wider spectrum of ethnicity, age, and other demographics. Implications advocates, shelter workers, and medical or mental practitioners working with IPV victims. These results also provide secondary victims (people who know a victim and are very close with them) valuable information about the coping process and choices of cop ing for primary victims. Hopefully, this study will de stigmatize and debunk some of the myths of battered women. Clearly, these women are exposed to dangerous and difficult scenarios every day, some life threatening and some less severe. However, we canno t forget the strength it must take to transition from emotional focused coping to problem focused coping. Although help seeking might be the most obvious way to end a relations hip, battered women must first free themselves from rationalizing the violence, accepting their abuse, and realizing that the relationship that they ha ve been holding on to must be released.
COPING WITH IPV 46 the ties to the violence she must also relinquish those happy moments when violence was not involved w hen the abuser was not abusive. The results also suggest that the experience of battering does have an effect on subjective stress and that coping me chanism s can influence psychological well being. Those working with IPV victims can use these findings to help them determine where a victim stands in their coping process. According to the results, negative forms of emotional focused coping can lead to mo re subjective stress. If an advocate or mental health practitioner notices an abundant usage of this form of coping the n they can encourage the victim to use other, more positive, forms of coping. And according to my findings, women who reported using mor e positive forms of one type of coping also increased their usage of the other positive form of coping. Obviously, persuading women to leave their abusers is the main goal for all advocates and secondary victims. This is, after all, the only way a woman c an free herself of abuse. However, family and friends will frequently use negative tactics such as threating to disown calling the cops on her abuser, or failing to support her if she choses to stay in the relationship to coerce women to leave which can make the women feel frustrated and angry. Many shelters refuse to use such tactics and instead use the empowerment philosophy allowing women to make choices and supporting their decisions Supporting a victim is more important than trying to fix the problem. knows that she has a support system somew here. Receiving positive support can add confidence to a woman who needs to ma ke the necessary steps to escape and by
COPING WITH IPV 47 constructing these social supports, it gives her a better opportunity of maintaining a life after the abuse. Future Research R es earch on battered women and coping is far more complex than what this study claims to have concluded. More studies need to be done qualitatively on coping because quantitative studies answer very little about why battered women chose to cope the way they cope. By understanding the benefits of coping styles, researchers and people working in the field of intimate partner violence can teach better coping methods to women who might need it. Longitudinal studies can enhance more accurate descriptions of coping styles amongst battered women and researchers can compare coping styles in an abusive relationship to techniques used outside the relationship or even after terminating the relationship. Also, studies need to be done on the victims who make up the rest of the I PV spectrum. Most research done today deals with shelter populations or women seeking over a wide range of abuse severity. Data on that pop ulation would be beneficial to understanding coping mechanisms of those in less severe abusive relationships to those who seek shelter accommodations. Researchers can also try to reach battered women who are too afraid to utilize help seeking strategies, particularly those of different ethnicities, because cultural expectations may play a role in coping choices, or those who live in low income neighborhoods, because as Anderson (2003) reported, environmental and financial restrictions can really affect the decisions of a victim.
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COPING WITH IPV 56 T able 1. Demographics of the sample Category Percentage of Participants Age 20 25 25% 26 40 15% 40 and over 35% Race/Ethnicity White/Caucasian 75% Black/African American 10% Asian 5% Hispanic 5% Education High School Diploma/GED 33% Technical/Vocational school 15% Some College/AA/BA/BS 25% 5% Children Participant does have children 80% Participant does not have children 5% Length of most recent abusive relationship Less than 6 months 30% 6 months 2 years 20% 3 years 5 years 15% 6 years and over 20%
COPING WITH IPV 57 Table 2. Intercorrelations of Coping Strategies, Stress and Experience with Battering 1 2 3 4 5 6 1. Experience 2. Stress 0.39 3. Problem Positive 0.01 0.08 4. Emotion Negative 0.11 0.39 0.29 5. Problem Negative 0.32 0.30 0.06 0.52 ** 6. Emotion Positive 0.08 0.06 0.59** 0.01 0.54 *** Note. Experience = the experience of battering (WEB) scores, Stress = subjective stress as measured by the Impact of Events scale, Problem = problem focused coping, Emotion = emotional focused coping, Negative and Positive = the negative and posi tive forms of each coping sty le. p < .0 1 ** p < .0 5. *** p < .001.
COPING WITH IPV 58 Table 3. Intercorrelations of Total Coping Strategies, Stress and Experience with Battering 1 2 3 4 1. Experience 2. Stress 0.39 3. Problem Total 0.02 0.19 4. Emotion Total 0.06 0.33 0.57** Note. Experience = the experience of battering (WEB) scores, Stress = subjective stress as measured by the Impact of Events scale, Problem Total = total problem focused coping score Emotion Total = total emotional focused coping score style. p < .0 1 ** p < .001.
COPING WITH IPV 59 Table 4 Categories of the most common and least common coping strategies and reported frequencies X Frequency Score Form of Coping Strategy Coping Strategy 2.85 Positive Emotion focused (positive reappraisal) 2.80 Negative Emotion focused (escape avoidance) would go away or somehow be over with it 2.53 Positive Emotion focused (positive reappraisal) 2.45 Negative Emotion focused (escape avoidance) would 2.40 Negative Emotion focused wishes about (escape avo idance) how things might turn 2.40 Negative Emotion focused (self controlling) b ridges but leave things open 2.40 Negative Emotion focused knowing (self controlling) how bad thing 1.15 Negative Emotion focused (escape avoidance) 1.10 Negative Emotion focused (escape avoidance) that it had happened to 1.05 Negative Emotion focused get to (distancing) Note. Mean scores of 2.4 and above were categorized as high frequency coping mechanisms and mean scores of 1.2 and below were categorized as low frequency coping mechanisms. The highest score for a specific coping mechanism i s 3 and the lowest score is 0.
COPING WITH IPV 60 Table 5. Categories of coping strategies and reported frequencies Form of Coping Strategy Coping Strategy X Frequency Score Positive Problem Focused Seeking Social Support 2.25 2.15 2.10 2.00 1.84 Planful Problem Solving 2.31 2.25 2.05 1.85 1.85 1.74 Confrontive Coping 2.35 2.30 2.15 2.05 2.05 1.70 Negati ve Problem Focused Accepting Responsibility 2.37 2.25 2.05 1.37 Positive Emotional Focused Positive Reappraisal 2.85 2.53 2.30 2.21 2.00 1.95 1.90 Negative Emotional Focused Distancing e silver lining, so to speak; I tried to look on 2.45
COPING WITH IPV 61 Table 5 cont. Categories of coping strategies and reported frequencies Form of Coping Strategy Coping Strategy X Frequency Score Negative Emotional Focused Distancing 2.10 2.05 1.90 1.45 1.05 Self Controlling 2.40 2.40 2.26 2.06 2.05 e this 2.05 Escape Avoidance 2.80 2.45 2.40 1.80 1.70 1.50 1.15 1.10
COPING WITH IPV 62 Appendix A Following are a number of statements that women have used to describe their relationships with their le the answer that best describes how much you d o not now have a partner, think about your last one. Description of how your partner makes you feel Agree Strongly Agree Somewhat Agree a Little Disagree a Little Disagree somewhat Disagree strongly 1. He makes me feel unsafe. 6 5 4 3 2 1 2. He makes me feel unsafe in my own home. 6 5 4 3 2 1 3. I feel ashamed of the things he does to me. 6 5 4 3 2 1 4. I try not to rock the boat because I am afraid of what he might do. 6 5 4 3 2 1 5. I feel like I am programmed to react in a certain way to him. 6 5 4 3 2 1 6. I feel like he keeps me prisoner. 6 5 4 3 2 1 7. He makes me feel like I have no control over my life. 6 5 4 3 2 1 8. He makes me feel like I have no power over my life. 6 5 4 3 2 1 9. He makes me feel like I have no protection. 6 5 4 3 2 1
COPING WITH IPV 63 Below is a list of difficulties people sometimes have after stressful life events. Please read each item, and then indicate how distressing each difficulty has been for you DURING THE PAST SEVEN DAYS with respect to the last time you remember being battere d. How much were you distressed or bothered by these difficulties. Description of how you feel Extremely Quite a bit Moderately A little bit Not at all 15. Any reminder brought back feelings about it. 4 3 2 1 0 16. I had trouble staying asleep. 4 3 2 1 0 17. Other things kept making me think about it. 4 3 2 1 0 18. I felt irritable and angry. 4 3 2 1 0 19. I avoided letting myself get upset when I thought about it or was reminded of it. 4 3 2 1 0 20. I thought about it when I 4 3 2 1 0 10. I hide the truth from others because I am afraid not to. 6 5 4 3 2 1 11. I feel owned by him. 6 5 4 3 2 1 12. I feel controlled by him. 6 5 4 3 2 1 13. He can scare me without laying a hand on me. 6 5 4 3 2 1 14. He has a look that goes straight through me and terrifies me. 6 5 4 3 2 1
COPING WITH IPV 64 21. I felt as if 4 3 2 1 0 22. I stayed away from reminders of it. 4 3 2 1 0 23. Pictures about it popped into my mind. 4 3 2 1 0 24. I was jumpy and easily startled. 4 3 2 1 0 25. I tried not to think about it. 4 3 2 1 0 26. I was aware that I still had a lot of feelings with them. 4 3 2 1 0 27. My feelings about it were kind of numb. 4 3 2 1 0 28. I found myself acting or feeling like I was back at that time. 4 3 2 1 0 29. I had trouble falling asleep. 4 3 2 1 0 30. I had waves of strong feelings about it. 4 3 2 1 0 31. I tried to remove it from my memory. 4 3 2 1 0 32. I had trouble concentrating. 4 3 2 1 0 33. Reminders of it caused me to have physical reactions, such as sweating, nausea, or a pounding heart. 4 3 2 1 0 34. I had dreams about it. 4 3 2 1 0 35. I felt watchful and on guard. 4 3 2 1 0
COPING WITH IPV 65 36. I tried not to talk about it. 4 3 2 1 0 Please read each item and indicate to what extent you used these coping styles within your abusive relationship. coped Used a great deal Used quite a bit Used somewhat Not used 37. I concentrated on what I had to do next the next step. 3 2 1 0 38. I tried to analyze the problem in order to understand it better. 3 2 1 0 39. I turned to work or substitute activity to take my mind off things. 3 2 1 0 40. I felt that time would make a difference the only thing to do was to wait. 3 2 1 0 41. I bargained or compromised to get something positive from the situation. 3 2 1 0 42. would work, but at least I was doing something. 3 2 1 0 43. I criticized or lectured myself. 3 2 1 0 44. I tried to get the person responsible to change his or her mind. 3 2 1 0 45. I talked to someone to find out more about the situation 3 2 1 0 46. I tried not to burn my bridges, but leave things open somewhat. 3 2 1 0 47. I hoped a miracle would happen. 3 2 1 0 48. I went along with fate; sometimes I just have bad luck. 3 2 1 0 49. I went on as if nothing had happened. 3 2 1 0 50. I tried to keep my feelings to myself. 3 2 1 0 51. I looked for the silver lining, so to speak; I tried to look on the bright side of things. 3 2 1 0
COPING WITH IPV 66 52. I slept more than usual. 3 2 1 0 53. I expressed anger to the persons who caused the problem. 3 2 1 0 54. I accepted sympathy and understanding from someone. 3 2 1 0 55. I told myself things that helped me to feel better. 3 2 1 0 56. I was inspired to do something creative. 3 2 1 0 57. I tried to forget the whole thing. 3 2 1 0 58. I got professional help. 3 2 1 0 59. I changed or grew as a person in a good way. 3 2 1 0 60. I waited to see what would happen before doing anything. 3 2 1 0 61. I apologized or did something to make up. 3 2 1 0 62. I made a plan of action and followed it. 3 2 1 0 63. I accepted the next best thing to what I wanted. 3 2 1 0 64. I let my feelings out somehow. 3 2 1 0 65. I realized I brought the problem on myself. 3 2 1 0 66. I came out of the experience better than when I went in. 3 2 1 0 67. I talked to someone who could do something concrete about the problem. 3 2 1 0 68. I got away from it for a while. 3 2 1 0 69. I tried to rest or take a vacation. 3 2 1 0 70. I tried to make myself feel better by eating, drinking, smoking, using drugs, or medications. 3 2 1 0
COPING WITH IPV 67 71. I took a big change or did something very risky. 3 2 1 0 72. I tried not to act to hastily or follow my first hunch. 3 2 1 0 73. I found new faith. 3 2 1 0 74. I maintained my pride and kept a stiff upper lip. 3 2 1 0 75. I rediscovered what is important in life. 3 2 1 0 76. I changed something so things would turn out all right. 3 2 1 0 77. I avoided being with people in general. 3 2 1 0 78. 3 2 1 0 79. I refused to think too much about it. 3 2 1 0 80. I asked a relative or friend I respected for advice. 3 2 1 0 81. I kept others from knowing how bad things were. 3 2 1 0 82. I made light of the situation. 3 2 1 0 83. I refused to get too serious about it. 3 2 1 0 84. I talked to someone about how I was feeling. 3 2 1 0 85. I stood my ground and fought for what I wanted. 3 2 1 0 86. I took it out on people. 3 2 1 0 87. I drew on my past experiences. 3 2 1 0 88. I was in a similar situation before. 3 2 1 0 89. I knew what had to be done, so I doubled my efforts to make things work. 3 2 1 0 90. I refused to believe that it had happened. 3 2 1 0
COPING WITH IPV 68 91. I made a promise to myself that things would be different next time. 3 2 1 0 92. I came up with a couple of different solutions to the problem. 3 2 1 0 93. I accepted it, since nothing could be done. 3 2 1 0 94. I tried to keep my feelings from interfering with other things too much. 3 2 1 0 95. I wished that I could change what had happened or how I felt. 3 2 1 0 96. I changed something about myself. 3 2 1 0 97. I daydreamed or imagined a better time or place than the one I was in. 3 2 1 0 98. I wished that situation would go away or somehow be over with. 3 2 1 0 99. I had fantasies or wishes about how things might turn out. 3 2 1 0 100. I prayed. 3 2 1 0 101. I prepared myself for the worst. 3 2 1 0 102. I went over in my mind what I would say or do. 3 2 1 0 103. I thought about how a person I admire would handle this situation and used that as a model. 3 2 1 0 104. I tried to see things from the 3 2 1 0 105. I reminded myself how much worse things could be. 3 2 1 0 106. I jogged or exercised. 3 2 1 0 Please complete the following questions. All answers will be confidential and all questions are completely voluntary. 1. Age: __________________________________________________________ 2. Race/Ethnicity:
COPING WITH IPV 69 __________________________________________________________ 3. Gender: _______________________________________ ___________________ 4. Gender of Batterer: __________________________________________________________ 5. Do you have any children? If so, how many: __________________________________________________________ 6. Length of most recent abusive relationship in months: __________________________________________________________ 7. Highest degree received: __________________________________________________________ 8. Batter er __________________________________________________________ 9. Independent Income: ____ ______________________________________________________