Exploring the Existence of Distinct Subclasses of Intimate Partner Violence Experience and Associations with Mental Health

Susan Lagdon, Jana Ross, Bethany Waterhouse-Bradley, Cherie Armour

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Abstract

Purpose: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a worldwide societal concern. Adversities such as IPV are known to impinge upon mental health and socio-economic development. However, much of the existing literature addresses single or dual constructs of IPV abuse rather than capturing the more common polyvictimisation experience and how they impact on mental health.
Methods: Using a Northern Irish university student sample (n = 753), latent class analysis was employed to examine distinct patterns of IPV experience stratified by gender (n =184 males (24.44%); n = 569 females (75.56%)). Regressions were then employed to assess whether there were differential associations between the latent classes of IPV and a range of mental health outcomes.
Results: While a greater number of females reported experiencing IPV, patterns of IPV victimisation across gender were found to be similar. Results indicated that three latent classes were optimal across both genders; one characterised by Low or no IPV (males: 48.37%; females: 56.24%), another characterised by predominantly physical and emotional denigration (males: 34.24%; females: 27.42%), and a third characterised by multiple endorsements of different types of IPV (males: 17.39%; females: 16.34%). Differences in mental health outcomes across gender are noted. Classes characterised by multiple forms of abuse report an increased risk of mental health outcomes including posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression but not alcohol use.
Conclusions: The study extends the existing literature which highlights the importance of acknowledging psychological and emotional abuse (PEA) as a significant abuse type in the IPV experience. The study also reaffirms the need for definitional clarity and development of standardised measurement tools of PEA within the research context and beyond.

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research formed part of a Department of Education and Learning NI (DEL) funded PhD project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Emotional abuse
  • Gender
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Mental health
  • Person-orientated analysis
  • Psychological abuse

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