Psychological abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder in battered women: examining the roles of shame and guilt

Violence Vict. 2001 Feb;16(1):65-78.


Psychological abuse among battered women has been relatively understudied. However, battered women's reports in the existing qualitative and quantitative research suggest that the effects of psychological abuse can be even more damaging than the effects of physical abuse. The current study attempted to clarify the relationship between psychological abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within a sample of battered women by statistically controlling for the effects of physical abuse. This study also explored the affective experiences of shame and guilt as important variables in the development of PTSD in battered women. This investigation replicated previous work suggesting that battered women are very much at risk for a diagnosis of PTSD and suggests that clinicians and researchers may need to focus on psychological abuse as a predictor of PTSD symptomatology. The current findings encourage attention to shame reactions in battered women and suggest new directions in the study of PTSD for other traumatized populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Battered Women / psychology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Guilt*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shame*
  • Southeastern United States
  • Spouse Abuse / classification
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / classification
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires