Measuring battering: development of the Women's Experience with Battering (WEB) Scale

Womens Health. 1995 Winter;1(4):273-88.


Measuring only the physical markers of violence (e.g., slapping, beating) fails to capture the chronic vulnerability and gendered nature of battered women's experiences. Instruments that measure only observable discrete events may mask the continuous nature of battering and the relation between events and experience. Our approach to measuring battering operationalizes the experiences of battered women rather than the abusive behaviors they encounter. This alternative approach emphasizes the meanings battered women attach to the violence and to battering as an enduring presence in their lives. Focus groups with 22 battered women generated qualitative data for developing scale items (Smith, Tessaro, & Earp, 1995) and a known-groups survey with 185 battered and 204 nonbattered women determined the final scale items. Factor analysis of 40 initial items revealed a strong single-factor solution. The resulting 10-item Women's Experiences with Battering (WEB) Scale demonstrated high internal consistency reliability, was significantly correlated with known-group status, exhibited good construct validity, and was not significantly correlated with a measure of social desirability. The WEB Scale provides researchers with a valid and concise measure for studying relations between battering and health or health behavior, as well as evaluating the impact of interventions on battered women or prevalence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Spouse Abuse / diagnosis
  • Spouse Abuse / psychology*