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Free Content The Impact and Consequences of Partner Abuse on Partners

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This study represents a comprehensive review and critique of 122 empirical articles and 10 review articles on the psychological and physical consequences of psychological and physical abuse on partners and yielded several strong and consistent conclusions. Victims of psychological and physical abuse experience more physical injuries, poorer physical functioning and health outcomes, higher rates of psychological symptoms and disorders, and poorer cognitive functioning compared to nonvictims. These findings were consistent regardless of the nature of the sample and, with some exceptions, generally greater for female victims compared to male victims. Moreover, psychological victimization appears to be at least as strongly related to victims' psychological consequences as is physical victimization. There was a relative dearth of research examining the consequences of psychological abuse for male victims, and the results of those studies have been mixed. Research examining sex differences yields strong and consistent evidence that physical violence has more deleterious consequences for women overall. However, the severity of the physical abuse seems to moderate differences in injury rates. In addition to these known findings from past reviews, this study generated several novel findings. First, there is a small but critical group of studies demonstrating the effects of abuse on health behaviors. Second, physical victimization has serious economic and social consequences for victims and society at large. Third, the consequences of abuse were significantly worse for female victims who were of low income, ethnic minorities, and/or unemployed. In the second section of this article, we critique the existing literature in terms of the content of the research, as well as on conceptual and methodological grounds. In the third section we offer specific recommendations for future research and intervention efforts.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Partner Abuse, a peer-reviewed journal, recognizes that physical and emotional abuse among dating, cohabitating and married partners is as a major public health and social problem in North America and around the world. Its purpose is to advance knowledge, practice and policies through a commitment to rigorous, objective research and evidence-based solutions. In addition to original research papers and literature reviews, the journal welcomes viewpoints and commentaries on the topic of partner abuse, as well as clinical case studies, book reviews and letters to the editor.
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