[On the relationship between emotional dependency and abuse]

Rev Med Brux. 2016 Mar-Apr;37(2):79-86.
[Article in French]


Abuse is a complex psychosocial issue with multiple implications. This paper takes a look at the physical and psychological manifestations of domestic violence, i.e. between adult (romantic) partners as well as abuse of the elderly. Past studies have looked at the relationship between emotional dependency, the occurence and sustainability of abuse and the likehood that a victimized person will terminate a relationship. Indeed, individuals with Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD) or with dependent characteristics present a higher risk of becoming abusive (both physically and mentally) as well as becoming a victim of abuse. Regarding the elderly, the concept of "reverse violence"--where the current abuser was the victim of the senior who is being abused-, also entails dependent relationships. We identified three concepts that are necessary in the understanding of how dependent relationships underpin abuse: Rusbult's model of commitment in intimate relationships, the notion of dependency-possessiveness and Murphy et al's notion of escalating affective dependency. Thus, it is imperative that future studies in the field of domestic violence look at the dynamics of dyads rather than the individuals alone.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Codependency, Psychological
  • Dependent Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Humans