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Role of Distinct PTSD Symptoms in Intimate Partner Reabuse: A Prospective Study

NCJ Number
Journal of Traumatic Stress Volume: 19 Issue: 4 Dated: August 2006 Pages: 507-516
Date Published
August 2006
10 pages

This study of 405 women receiving services as victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) focuses on their experiences of each of four symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and whether that symptom is associated with a woman's IPV revictimization during a 1-year period.


The four PTSD symptoms examined were hyperarousal, re-experiencing, numbing, and avoidance. The study found that the rate of IPV revictimization was 36.7 percent, which is high but consistent with previous studies that used victim reports. The study found that PTSD is but one factor that may increase the likelihood of IPV revictimization over time. It is also determined that the four PTSD symptom clusters did not uniformly influence the risk of revictimization. Although both numbing and hyperarousal were higher at baseline among those subsequently revictimized when entered simultaneously into the final model, only numbing remained a significant predictor of revictimization. In numbing, emotional and reactive behaviors are dulled. The authors offer possible explanations for this connection between numbing and revictimization, but none of the explanations were tested empirically. The severity of prior IPV and the amount of time spent in the violent relationship also predicted IPV revictimization over the course of the study year. In addition, there was an indication that exposure to violence in childhood increased the likelihood of partner revictimization. The authors conclude that the findings show the importance of addressing the PTSD symptom of numbing in treatment as part of the effort to reduce the likelihood of IPV revictimization. The PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version was administered to the women in assessing PTSD symptoms. 2 tables and 41 references

Date Published: August 1, 2006