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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2003 Apr;4(2):163-91.

Leaving an abusive partner: an empirical review of predictors, the process of leaving, and psychological well-being.

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University of Michigan, USA.


Four facets of leaving an abusive relationship are reviewed: (a). factors related to initially leaving an abusive partner; (b). the process of leaving an abusive relationship; (c). the psychological well-being of survivors after leaving; and (d). the predictors of this well-being. The conceptual and methodological limitations of studies in each of these areas are presented. Consistently found predictors of leaving include both material and psychological factors. Because battered women typically undergo several shifts in their thinking about the abuse before leaving permanently, research on leaving as a process is highlighted. A stress-process framework is used to explain the seemingly paradoxical finding that some women just out of the abusive relationship may have greater psychological difficulties than those who are still in it. For those experiencing the most stress, psychological health can worsen over time. Researchers and practitioners need to pay more attention to the plight of women who have left abusive partners.

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