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Impact of Childhood Psychological Maltreatment on Interpersonal Schemas and Subsequent Experiences of Relationship Aggression

NCJ Number
Journal of Emotional Abuse Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 93-116
Emily Crawford; Margaret O'Dougherty Wright
Date Published
24 pages
This study explored the relationships between child psychological maltreatment, interpersonal schemas, and adult relationship aggression in college men and women.
Results indicate that the survivors who are most vulnerable to experiencing abusive adult relationships are those who hold interpersonal schemas of others as likely to perpetrate abuse, or who believe that they must prioritize others’ needs above their own. Also, consistently suppressing one’s own expression of emotions is apt to increase the likelihood that a survivor of child psychological abuse will be revictimized as an adult, or will eventually explode by perpetrating interpersonally aggressive acts. In addition, abuse survivors who have little confidence in their own ability to tolerate frustration, or who have a fragile self-esteem, are at risk for responding to interpersonal conflict with aggression. These findings provide a unique window into the relational expectations that some survivors of child abuse hold and suggest that it is advantageous for future research on intimate partner violence to be driven by theory on interpersonal schemas. Also, the results reiterate the importance of intervening early with child abuse survivors, in order to address the component of psychological abuse that they have endured in a manner that afford survivors the opportunity to alter existing relational schemas. This study seeks to expand research by focusing on the impact of child psychological abuse on the development of early maladaptive schemas (EMSs) and exploring the relationships between psychological maltreatment, EMSs, and later adult interpersonal relationships utilizing a study sample of 301 college men and women. Tables, figures, references