CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Is Psychological Abuse Reciprocal in Intimate Relationships? Data from a National Sample of American Adults


A national sample of adults in the United States reported on presence, frequency, emotional impact, and behavioral impact of psychologically abusive behaviors in their “worst” cohabiting relationship by their partner as well as by themselves. In addition, they completed instrumentation measuring potential outcomes from much psychological maltreatment. Results from the online survey indicated that psychological abuse of an egregious nature was highly reciprocal, although overall, respondents reported that they engaged in psychological abuse less frequently than their partners and believed that their partners experienced much less negative impact from the respondents’ actions. Specific categories of psychological abuse as well as specific behaviors were also highly likely to be reciprocated. Combinations of high and low psychological abuse exhibited by the respondent and his/her partner resulted in negative outcomes whenever the partner was high in psychological abuse whether or not the respondent used these egregious tactics.

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Published in Journal of Family Violence, v. 25, issue 5, p. 495-508.

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