Experience of maltreatment as a child and acceptance of violence in adult intimate relationships: mediating effects of distortions in cognitive schemas

Allison N Ponce, Michelle K Williams, George J Allen
Violence and Victims 2004, 19 (1): 97-108
Links exist between being subjected to maltreatment as a child and tendencies to accept violence as normative in adult relationships. Constructivist Self Development Theory suggests that such relationships may be affected by "cognitive disruptions" in "self" and "other" schemas. Mediating effects of distorted cognitive schemas on the association between history of child maltreatment and the acceptance of violence in intimate interpersonal relationships were investigated among 433 men and women. Outcomes indicated that individuals who reported childhood maltreatment were more likely to display distortions in their cognitive schemas and those individuals with disrupted schemas were more likely to accept relationship violence. Least-square multiple regression analyses revealed that distorted beliefs fully mediated the relationship between reporting childhood maltreatment and acceptance of violence, for both men and women. Subsidiary analyses suggested that this full mediation was replicated for schemas involving the self but not for schemas about others.


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