Psychological distress associated with domestic violence in Northern Ireland

Martin J. Dorahy, Christopher Alan Lewis, Finwell A.M. Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Several studies have noted an association between domestic violence and psychological distress. However, little empirical work has examined behavioral and psychological difficulties, especially with reference to dissociation and guilt, in victims of domestic violence in Northern Ireland. In addition, childhood abuse history has tended not to be assessed in studies conducted in the Province. Using measures designed to assess behavioral and psychological difficulties that are problematic to self and/or others (that is, Brief Symptoms Inventory, General Health Questionnaire, Guilt Inventory), dissociation (that is, Dissociative Experiences Scale, Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire) and trauma (that is, Traumatic Experiences Checklist), the current study assessed Northern Irish victims of domestic violence from shelter-type accommodation (N = 33) and a comparison sample of women from the general population (N= 33). The domestic violence group displayed significantly more psychological difficulties, including higher depression, anxiety and dissociation scores. Dissociative episodes at the time of an assault were related to higher on-going dissociative experiences. Finally, the domestic violence sample reported more emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in childhood than the comparison group. Despite the difficulty generalizing from victims of domestic violence in shelter-type accommodation to all victims of spousal abuse, the current results highlight the increased levels of psychological distress in those exposed to abuse by their partner.

Original languageEnglish
Article number295
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Psychology
Volume25
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

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