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Abuse Characteristics and Coping Resources as Predictors of Problem-Focused Coping Strategies Among Battered Women

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2008 Pages: 437-456
Chiara Sabina; R. Scott Tindale
Date Published
April 2008
20 pages
This study identified the predictors of battered women's use of three types of problem-focused coping strategies: amount of help-seeking, pursuing an order of protection, and staying away from the abuser.
Ninety percent of the sample of 478 women who had been abused in the previous year engaged in at least one of the three types of measured problem-focused coping strategies. Approximately 50 percent of the sample stayed away from the abusers, and 81 percent sought help from at least one source. Only 13 percent pursued or obtained an order of protection. Findings show that as the severity of the abuse increased, women relied more on their support networks, which stimulated advice that prompted more help-seeking. Four factors emerged as predictors of staying away from the abuser: harassment, power and control, health, and employment. These predictors are related more to psychological abuse than physical abuse, confirming previous research that has found women are more intolerant of an intimate relationship characterized by psychological degradation, attacks on self-esteem, and the diminishment of autonomy than a physically abusive relationship. Predictors of pursuing or obtaining an order of protection were severe physical assaults and extreme levels of power and control tactics. Data from the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study were used in this study. The independent variables were abuse characteristics (number of abusive incidents per year, most severe incident, harassment, and power and control experienced in the relationship); personal coping resources (general health perception and lack of depressive symptoms); material coping resources (highest levels of education, personal income in 1996, and employment status); and social coping resources (support network). Dependent variables were amount of help-seeking, pursuing a protection order, and staying away from the abusive partner. Means of measuring the variables are described. 5 tables and 65 references