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The Abusive Personality in Women in Dating Relationships

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This study adds to the available literature on female-perpetrated intimate abuse by examining Dutton's (2007) theory of the “abusive personality” (AP) in a sample of 914 women who had been involved in dating relationships. Consistent with the AP, recalled parental rejection, borderline personality organization (BPO), anger, and trauma symptoms all demonstrated moderate-to-strong relationships with women's self-reported intimate psychological abuse perpetration. Fearful attachment style demonstrated a weak-to-moderate relationship with psychological abuse perpetration. A potential model for explaining the interrelationships between the elements of the AP was tested using structural equation modeling (SEM). Consistent with the proposed model, recalled parental rejection demonstrated relationships with BPO, trauma symptoms, and fearful attachment. Similarly, consistent with the model, trauma symptoms demonstrated a relationship with anger; and BPO demonstrated strong relationships with trauma symptoms, fearful attachment, and anger. Additionally, anger itself had a strong relationship with women's self-reported perpetration of intimate psychological and physical abuse. Contrary to the proposed model, fearful attachment had a nonsignificant relationship with anger when this relationship was examined using SEM.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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