The impact of psychological aggression on women's mental health and behavior: the status of the field

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2009 Jul;10(3):271-89. doi: 10.1177/1524838009334453. Epub 2009 May 20.


Potential effects of psychological aggression have been investigated in terms of mental health disorders/symptoms, physical manifestations, personality traits, increases in physical and psychological aggression, and relationship changes and cessation. Probably because of methodological difficulties inherent in assessing this complex phenomenon, even the most commonly assessed outcome variables have produced contradictory results, with the exception of leaving or desiring to leave the psychologically abusive relationship. Some of the significant findings require more corroboration due to the small number of studies addressing them. The relative role of physical abuse in relation to psychological abuse has yet to be disentangled. Mediator/moderator variables are likely extremely important for explaining why particular consequences do not consistently result from psychological aggression. Although the hypothesized consequences/outcomes seem appropriate for further study, the most significant contribution may lie in intensive investigation of long-term, enduring psychological abuse that produces major personality and affective shifts in the recipient.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Battered Women / psychology*
  • Coercion
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*
  • Women's Health