Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)


Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Lenore E. Walker

Second Advisor

Vincent Van Hasselt

Third Advisor

David L Shapiro


domestic violence, posttraumatic stress, resiliency


Domestic violence is a pervasive problem. Approximately one quarter of all women will be assaulted by a partner in their lifetime. It is difficult to predict how resilient a woman will be after being abused, and how severe the negative consequences may be. The present study sought to identify variables that are the strongest predictors of traumatic symptoms after experiencing domestic violence, and also test social support as a moderator of these trauma symptoms. One hundred and twenty two women incarcerated in a local south Florida county jail participated in the study. They were administered the BWSQ-3, DAPS, and AAS-R. Types of abuse experienced, number of abusive relationships, time in abusive relationship, and severity of injuries were all found to be significant predictors of clinically significant trauma symptoms; types of abuse experienced and severity of injuries contributed over and above the other variables. It was observed that approximately 71% of women identified as having a secure attachment style sought help outside the relationship for the abuse. It was also determined that women with a secure attachment style significantly differed from those with a preoccupied or fearful attachment style in the rates at which they sought help. The final analysis indicated social support effectively moderates the resulting trauma symptoms after being abused; women who have experienced mild to moderate abuse, who also have adequate social support, had lower rates of clinically significant trauma symptoms. The present findings are important for guiding treatment and the development and implementation of more effective interventions.

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