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Women’s Use of Aggression and Their Depressive Symptoms: The Mediating Effect of Aggression-Related Shame and Avoidance Coping Among Women Experiencing Bidirectional Intimate Partner Violence

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Research is scarce on the consequences of women’s use of aggression on their depressive symptoms, particularly in relationships where women use and are victimized by intimate partner violence (IPV). Further, research has yet to identify factors that may mediate the aggression-depressive symptoms link among women who experience bidirectional IPV. The present study examined the potential mediating roles of shame and avoidance coping in the relationship between women’s use of intimate partner aggression and their depressive symptoms. Participants were a community sample of 369 women who used and were victimized by physical aggression with a current male partner in the previous 6 months. A serial multiple mediator model was used to examine the mediating roles of aggression-related shame and avoidance coping on the relation between women’s use of aggression and depressive symptoms. Results showed a significant indirect effect of women's use of aggression on their depressive symptoms through both aggression-related shame and avoidance coping; indirect effects were not significant through each mediator separately. After controlling for women’s IPV victimization, we found a positive association between women’s use of aggression and aggression-related shame, which in turn was related to greater avoidance coping, and subsequently, greater depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the importance of examining shame and avoidance coping as consequences of women’s use of aggression and its effects on poorer mental health outcomes among women who use and are victimized by IPV.
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Keywords: avoidance coping; depression; intimate partner aggression; intimate partner victimization; shame

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts 2: University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island 3: University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 4: Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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