VARIATIONS IN HELP-SEEKING, BATTERED WOMEN'S RELATIONSHIP COURSE, EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING, AND EXPERIENCES OF ABUSE OVER TIME

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Abstract

Despite assumptions that leaving the batterer offers the best chance for improvement in battered women's lives, few studies provide conclusive data on this issue. Although many women eventually reunite with partners, also unexamined is the influence of relationship course over time. Five waves of data from 206 low-income, largely Black, help-seeking battered women revealed minimal differences in emotional well-being either initially or over time for women following different relationship trajectories during the course of 1 year. Consistency in relationship status (completely apart, completely together) tended to be associated with sharper drops in violence during the year; abuse tended to decrease most slowly among women who were in and out of their relationship over time. Findings suggest that the act of leaving is not necessarily associated with improvements for victims—how the process of leaving occurs may be more influential. Challenging common assumptions, women remaining with partners may sometimes fare better than women who leave.

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