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Perceptions of Psychological Abuse Versus Physical Abuse and Their Relationship With Mental Health Outcomes

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Prior research has been limited in examining at what degree aggressive actions are initially perceived negatively. The present research examined whether anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were associated with prior abuse or with being attributed to past or present relationships. Scales such as the Dating Relationship Profile (DRP) and hypothetical scenarios of abuse perpetration were used. This study hypothesized that acceptability ratings from hypothetical scenarios would predict answers on DRP items measuring whether physical or psychological abuse is considered acceptable in relationships. Specifically, gender would be a predictor variable. Convenience sampling of undergraduate psychology students from a comprehensive, metropolitan university in north Georgia was used and resulted in 291 respondents (n = 227 [78%] female, n = 64 [22%] male) whose ages ranged from 18 to 54 years (M = 20.57 years, SD = 5.12 years). The present research used a 2 × 2 between-subjects design examining gender and type of hypothetical scenario violence with perceptions of abuse as the dependent variable. A significant association between experience of abuse and attribution of anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms to past or present relationships and between experience of abuse and these symptoms was found. Results revealed a significant difference between acceptability ratings of psychological abuse and gender, with men perceiving psychological abuse as more acceptable.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2017

This article was made available online on January 27, 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "Perceptions of Psychological Abuse Versus Physical Abuse and Their Relationship With Mental Health Outcomes".

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