CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles


Justifiability, Sympathy Level, and Internal/External Focus of the Reasons Battered Women Remain in Abusive Relationships


Reasons why battered women remain in abusive relationships were rated by college students as to the degree of sympathy the reasons engendered, the degree to which the reasons seemed to justify the woman remaining, and whether the reasons appeared more within the woman's control (internal) or imposed upon her (external). Four clusters of reasons emerged that varied on the sympathy and justifiability ratings: Physical Restraint/Lack of Resources; Maintenance of the Relationship; Personal Deficits; and Loss of Resources. Sympathy for the individual reasons was correlated with viewing these reasons as more justifiable for keeping her in the relationship. Both sympathy and justifiability ratings were higher if the reasons were seen as externally imposed on the woman. The more the participants viewed the battered woman as possessing socially desirable traits, the more they had sympathy for the reasons she stayed and viewed them as justifiable. Gender and ethnicity differences on the ratings were also found. Implications for future research and application of the findings are discussed.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in Violence and Victims, v. 16, no. 6, p. 621-644.

Dr. Diane Follingstad had not been a faculty member of the University of Kentucky at the time of publication.