Characteristics of Women Physically Abused by Their Spouses and Who Seek Treatment Regarding Marital Conflict

M. Cascardi*, K. D. O'Leary, E. E. Lawrence, K. A. Schlee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Physically abused women seeking treatment for marital difficulties (abused women, n = 49) were compared with maritally discordant, nonabused women (discordant only, n = 23) and maritally satisfied nonabused women (community control, n = 25). Abused women reported significantly more fear of their spouses and reported that their spouses were significantly more coercive and psychologically aggressive than women in the 2 matched nonabused groups. Abused women did not report higher rates of abuse as a child, nor did they report higher rates of past psychopathology than women in the nonabused groups. However, abused women and nonabused discordant women reported higher rates of emotional abuse in childhood than maritally satisfied nonabused women. Furthermore, both clinical groups had a tendency to have higher lifetime rates of major depression before their current marriage than the maritally satisfied women. This result suggests that childhood abuse and a history of depression may be risk factors for women in abusive and nonabusive discordant relationships. As expected, abused women reported higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder than women in the discordant-only and community control groups. Treatment implications for both standard treatments for marital problems and treatments for victims of physical abuse are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-623
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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