Informal Social Reactions to College Women’s Disclosure of Intimate Partner Violence: Associations With Psychological and Relational Variables


This researchers assessed informal (e.g., friends, family) social reactions to college women’s (N = 139) disclosure of intimate partner violence (IPV) within their current romantic relationships and associated psychological (i.e., posttraumatic stress symptoms [PTSS] and global psychological distress symptoms) and relational (i.e., intentions to leave the abusive relationship) variables. Women completed confidential surveys, which assessed current partner abuse, psychological and relational variables, and three types of social reactions from informal supports to disclosure of IPV: positive (e.g., believing, validating the victim), negative (e.g., disbelieving, blaming the victim), and leaving (i.e., being told to end the relationship) reactions. At the bivariate level, negative social reactions to women’s disclosure were related to increases in global psychological distress, PTSS, and leaving intentions; positive social reactions to disclosure related only to increases in PTSS; and being told to leave the relationship related to increases in PTSS and leaving intentions. In the regression analyses, after controlling for abuse severity, negative social reactions were significantly related to global psychological distress and PTSS, and being told to leave significantly related to leaving intentions and PTSS. Mechanisms for these relationships and implications are discussed.


Psychology, Prevention Innovations Research Center Pubs

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Journal of Interpersonal Violence


Sage Publications

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