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Title: An investigation of the psychological consequences of physical and sexual abuse in women
Author: Andrews, Bernice
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1991
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The research concerned long-term psychological consequences of physical and sexual abuse experienced in childhood and adulthood in community samples of working-class women. The investigation involved semi-structured interviews and investigator-based ratings. Evidence was presented for a causal link between marital violence and depression. Such violence was associated with prior social factors, such as early parental neglect, teenage marriage and premarital pregnancy. There was no evidence to support the notion of a predisposing personality factor. Investigation of cognitive factors resulting from abuse suggested that whereas marital violence was sufficient in itself to explain concurrent depression, characterological self-blame for the violence was necessary to model vulnerability to depression once the woman had left the relationship. Such self-blame was most common among those who had also been abused in childhood. The relative contributions of childhood and adult physical and sexual abuse to adult depression were next investigated. Those with the highest rate of depression had experienced abuse in both childhood and adulthood, and among depressed women, childhood abuse was associated with more severe disorders, guilt, suicidal tendencies and accompanying anxiety disorders. Finally, the role of shame as a mediating factor in the abuse/disorder link was explored in a subset of women and their daughters. Shame was related to childhood abuse in both mothers and daughters. In mothers it mediated the relation between childhood abuse and depression but was quite unrelated to adult abuse. Both childhood abuse and shame were highly related to eating disorders in the daughters. The research has gone some way towards filling gaps in existing knowledge concerning causal links between abuse and disorder and the mediating effect of cognitive-affective factors in the link.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available