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Coping Capacity Among Women with Abusive Partners

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Coping capacity, although increasingly implicated as a mediating force in how individuals respond to personal threat, is an underrecognized factor in work with women of abusive partners. To explore the utility of coping capacity as a multivariable set to guide intervention with women of abusive partners, findings are reported comparing four groups of women: those whose partners do not engage in abuse, are abusive toward them, are sex offenders of children for whom the woman is a parent, or are offenders of children for whom the woman is not a parent. Three variable sets were included: vulnerability factors that may negatively influence appraisals of threat and ability to cope with abuse; coping responses that include cognitive, emotional, and behavioral reactions to the abuse; and coping resources expected to mediate effects of vulnerability factors and to influence the mobilization (of lack thereof) of coping responses. There were significant differences in coping capacity profiles across the four groups. These appeared to be a continuum of coping capacity, with women who were most directly threatened showing the lowest and women who were least directly threatened showing the highest levels of coping capacity. In order from the lowest to the highest levels of coping capacity were (1) battered women, (2) women whose partners are offenders against their children, (3) women whose partners are offenders against children of whom they are not the parent, and (4) control group women. The paper ends with a conceptual interpretation of the mediating functions of coping resources and implications for intervention and further study.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Washington, Seattle 2: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department 3: Harborview Medical Center

Publication date: January 1, 1992

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