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PTSD symptoms as risk factors for intimate partner violence revictimization and the mediating role of victims' violent behavior

Authors

  • Karlijn F. Kuijpers,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, Leiden Law School, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
    • Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, Leiden Law School, Leiden University, Room C1.20, P.O. Box 9520, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands.
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  • Leontien M. van der Knaap,

    1. International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT), Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
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  • Frans Willem Winkel

    1. International Victimology Institute Tilburg (INTERVICT), Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
    2. Centre for Psychotrauma, Reinier van Arkel Group, 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
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  • The authors would like to thank the Achmea Foundation Victim and Society that financially supported this study. Data collection was done in collaboration with Stichting Valkenhorst Breda, Bureau Slachtofferhulp Breda, Instituut voor Maatschappelijk Welzijn Breda, Veiligheidshuis Breda, Veiligheidshuis Bergen op Zoom, Traverse, GGZ Westelijk Noord-Brabant, LEV-groep Helmond, Slachtofferloketten Openbaar Ministerie Breda, Middelburg, Utrecht, Den Haag and Rotterdam, and the local domestic violence teams with all their cooperating partners and organizations of GGD Rotterdam.

Abstract

Apart from being a consequence of intimate partner violence (IPV), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also be a risk factor for IPV revictimization. The current study examined how each of 4 PTSD symptom clusters (reexperiencing, arousal, avoidance, and numbing) related to revictimization in a sample of 156 female help-seeking victims of IPV, recruited from various victim support services in the Netherlands. In addition, we hypothesized that victim-perpetrated IPV would mediate the relation between PTSD symptomatology and IPV revictimization. Our results show that victims' PTSD reexperiencing symptoms predict revictimization of partner violence (d = .45 for physical IPV revictimization; d = .35 for psychological IPV revictimization); the other 3 PTSD symptom clusters were not related to IPV revictimization. Furthermore, victim-perpetrated psychological IPV was found to partially mediate the relation between victims' PTSD reexperiencing symptoms and IPV revictimization (Z = 2.339, SE = 0.044, p = .019 for physical IPV revictimization, and Z = 2.197, SE = 0.038, p = .028 for psychological IPV revictimization). Findings indicate that IPV victims with higher levels of PTSD reexperiencing symptoms may be more likely to perpetrate psychological IPV themselves, which may put them at greater risk for receiving IPV in return. Based on these results, a focus on individual PTSD symptom clusters and victim behaviors seems relevant for practice and may contribute to a decrease in victims' risk for future IPV.

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