Intimate partner physical assault before and during pregnancy: how does it relate to women's psychological vulnerability?

Karen M Goldstein, Sandra L Martin
Violence and Victims 2004, 19 (4): 387-98
Most studies of intimate partner violence tend to be behaviorally focused, with scant attention paid to women's perception of vulnerability in their relationships. Since past research has linked such feelings and cognitions to women's health problems, it is important to examine multiple aspects of relationships when studying partner violence. Therefore, this study examines women's perceptions of vulnerability as they relate to their experiences of physical assault by their partner before and during pregnancy. A sample of 86 prenatal care patients were interviewed. The women reported their experiences of partner physical assault using the Conflict Tactics Scale 2, and they reported their perceptions concerning their relationships using the Women's Experiences with Battering Scale. Bivariate and multivariate analyses found that experiencing intimate partner physical assault was highly predictive of women's perceptions of vulnerability and loss of control in their relationships, with women who have been in physically violent relationships for longer periods of time being the most likely to express such feelings. Given that previous research has found such perceptions tied to negative health outcomes, clinicians are urged to evaluate their female patients' feelings of vulnerability as well as their experiences of intimate partner physical assault.

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