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J Trauma Stress. 2013 Aug;26(4):451-8. doi: 10.1002/jts.21829. Epub 2013 Jul 18.

Posttraumatic stress disorder symptom clusters, alcohol misuse, and women's use of intimate partner violence.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06518, USA.


Exploring how PTSD and alcohol misuse relate to women's use of intimate partner violence (IPV) is vital to develop our understanding of why some women may engage in IPV, which can serve to maximize intervention efforts for women. This study examined the extent to which posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom clusters are directly and indirectly related to women's use of IPV through pathways involving alcohol misuse while controlling for severity of women's IPV victimization. The sample was comprised of substance-using, low socioeconomic status community women (N = 143) currently experiencing IPV victimization. The majority of the sample was African American (n = 115, 80.42%). This sample had an average annual household income of $14,368.68 (SD = $12,800.68) and the equivalent of a high school education (11.94 years, SD = 1.32). Path analyses indicated that the strongest statistical relationship emerged between women's use of IPV and women's IPV victimization. PTSD reexperiencing and numbing symptom severity was related to women's use of psychological, minor physical, and severe physical IPV; however, these relationships were indirect through alcohol misuse. Findings lend preliminary support for the application of the self-medication hypothesis to the study of PTSD, alcohol misuse, and IPV among women.

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