Description: This study examined the distinct effects of partner violence and psychological abuse on women's mental health over time. Latent growth modeling was used to examine stability and change over time, evaluating the course and consequences of each form of abuse. The size of women's social support network was examined as a mediator. The sample consisted of 835 African American, Euro-American, and Mexican American low-income women. Participants who completed Waves 1, 2, 3, and 5 were included in the study (n = 585). In general, partner violence decreased over time for all groups, while psychological abuse decreased over time for only Euro-American women. Whereas initial and prolonged exposure to psychological abuse was related to and directly impacted women's mental health, partner violence was only related to initial levels of mental health. Surprisingly, social support was only related to initial violence and distress and had no impact on the rate of change over time. These results have important implications for researchers and health care professionals. First, differences in the pattern of results were found for each ethnic group, reaffirming the notion that counselors and researchers must be sensitive to multicultural concerns in both assessment and intervention. For example, psychological abuse had a greater impact on the mental health of African American and Mexican American women than it did for Euro-American women, suggesting a shift in focus depending on the ethnicity of the client may be warranted. Second, this longitudinal study highlights the importance of future research to considerer individual differences in treating and studying victimized women. Understanding factors that contribute to individual trajectories will help counselors gain insight into the problem and in devising plans to prevent or reduce the occurrence and negative health impact of partner abuse.
Date: August 2006
Creator: Temple, Jeff R.