The Mediating Role of Empowerment for African American Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence

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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a significant societal problem associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, which in turn can cause impairment in a variety of areas. Previous research suggests that African American women experience more frequent and severe IPV than White women, yet report fewer PTSD symptoms related to their abuse. One proposed explanation for this relationship is that African American women are more resilient due to internal coping methods such as empowerment; however, this relationship has yet to be empirically tested. The current study investigates the role of empowerment in mediating IPV-related psychological distress in a sample of African American and White battered women (N = 204). As hypothesized, personal empowerment mediated the relationships between race and PTSD and race and depression, suggesting that empowered African American women may demonstrate greater resiliency when faced with IPV. Results are discussed in terms of their implication for developing culturally sensitive empowerment-based interventions for battered women.

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