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Mindi Pampel Department of Psychology University of Dayton. An Investigation of PTSD Symptoms as a Mechanism For Revictimization in Women. Introduction.

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mindi pampel department of psychology university of dayton
Mindi Pampel

Department of Psychology

University of Dayton

An Investigation of PTSD Symptoms as a Mechanism For Revictimization in Women
introduction
Introduction
  • In the United States, one out of every four women will experience violence by an intimate partner sometime during her lifetime (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1999).
  • Revictimization: women abused physically as children are at much greater risk for abuse as adults.
  • It is valuable to learn the mechanisms by which physically abused girls become victims of domestic violence as adults.
introduction continued
Introduction continued
  • A potential mechanism of revictimization is that child abuse leads to PTSD symptoms in the form of emotional (i.e., alexithymia and numbing), behavioral (i.e., drug and alcohol abuse) and cognitive (i.e., mistrust, cognitive simplicity, and maladaptive attachment styles) changes.
  • These symptoms create a greater risk for dealing maladaptively with violent situations and place the woman at risk for entering abusive relationships.
hypotheses
Hypotheses
  • Mediation would be demonstrated as specified by Baron and Kenny (1986).
  • Child abuse, PTSD symptoms and related coping strategies of domestic violence would all be significantly, positively correlated with each other. The two exceptions to this are the secure and dismissive-avoidant attachment styles. I hypothesized that these attachment dimensions would be negatively correlated with the experience of child abuse and domestic violence.
  • When controlling for PTSD symptoms and related coping strategies, the relationship between childhood abuse and subsequent abuse in adulthood would no longer be statistically significant.
method
Method
  • One hundred and four women were recruited to participate in the study. Sixty-three of the women were from a drug and alcohol inpatient treatment facility and those seeking outpatient treatment in Dayton, OH. Forty-one additional women were recruited from Bridgeway, INC, a community mental health facility in Galesburg, IL.
  • 61% of participants were Caucasian, 33% were African American, 4% were Latina, and 2% characterized themselves as “other.”
  • 75% of women indicated they were “dating”, while 25% chose “married.”
  • 90% of women indicated their partner was male, while 10%indicated female.
method continued
Method continued
  • Participants were administered measures of the following variables in groups of about ten:
    • Child abuse.
    • Adult physical abuse.
    • Numbing.
    • Alexithymia.
    • Chemical dependency.
    • Adult attachment.
    • Cognitive complexity/simplicity.
    • Interpersonal trust.
results
Results
  • Some aspects of hypothesis 1 were supported:
    • The experience of child abuse and some types of adult abuse were significantly positively correlated with the PTSD symptoms of numbing and alexithymia (see Table 1).
    • However, mediational analyses were not run on numbing and alexithymia as they did not meet preliminary criteria to demonstrate mediation, (i.e., they were not related to the Negotiation subscale of the adult abuse measure), but a trend towards a relationship was uncovered.
results continued
Results continued
  • The dismissive-avoidant attachment style was significantly negatively correlated with both child abuse and adult physical abuse.
    • Hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to test the hypothesis that the dismissive-avoidant attachment style mediated the relationship between child abuse and adult abuse (physical and psychological aggression subscales), but this variable did not meet the criteria to demonstrate mediation.
table 1 zero order correlations between study variables
Table 1: Zero-Order Correlations Between Study Variables

____________________________________________________________________

Variable Domestic Abuse Subscales

Child Abuse Neg Inj Sex Coerc Phys Ass Psych Agg

__________________________________________________________________

Cog -.06 .01 -.10 .04 -.13 -.14

Comp

Drug .12 -.16 .23* .17 .19 -.03

Abuse

Alc .10 -.17 .07 .07 .03 -.07

Abuse

Mistrust -.02 .09 -.04 .00 -.10 .17

Numb .42** -.23** .00 .05 .11 -.03

Alex .25* -.24* .11 .23* . 07 .00

Att, -.27** -.03 .00 -.13 -.10 .07

Sec.

Att, .10 -.20 .14 -.02 .03 -.10

Fear

Att, .08 -.15 .00 -.08 -.00 -.06

Preo

Att, -.30** -.31** -.21* -.00 -.17 -.21*

Dis

Note. *p < .05. **p < .01.

discussion
Discussion
  • Consistent with previous research, child abuse was significantly, positively correlated with the experience of domestic violence as an adult.
  • In addition, some of the proposed mediators were related to child abuse or subscales of the adult physical abuse scale.
    • Numbing and alexithymia were positively related to both.
    • The secure attachment style was negatively related to child abuse.
  • Consistent with past research, a major aspect of the psychological sequelae of childhood abuse is symptoms of emotional dysregulation and disruption in object relations (Cloitre, 1998).
discussion continued
Discussion continued
  • The dismissive-avoidant attachment style was significantly negatively correlated with both child abuse and adult physical abuse.
  • This is consistent with past research in that studies have found that prototypical dismissive-avoidant women are likely to have a more positive view of self and engage in self-protective behaviors (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991).
discussion continued1
Discussion continued
  • However, support for hypothesis 2 was not found as no variable in the study met all criteria outlined by Baron and Kenny (1986) to demonstrate full mediation. There are possible reasons for this:
    • Other factors play a more important role in physical revictimization.
      • Social learning model.
      • Psychoanalytic theories.
    • Sexual and physical abuse revictimization distinct from one another.
discussion continued2
Discussion continued

Limitations of the current research include:

  • Larger sample needed.
  • Difference in demographics and pathology of participants.
  • Length of questionnaire.
  • Reading level of participants.
  • Future studies could look at role of complex PTSD.