The Role of Attributions in the Coping Trajectories of African American Battered Women
The present study attempts to elucidate the role of attributions in the coping trajectories of abused African American women. The study investigates the relationships between abused women's causal attributions for violence, coping strategies, and PTSD outcomes. Approximately 793 women were approached outside of either a battered women's shelter or the District Court, resulting in the recruitment of 406 primarily low-income, ethnic minority abused women. Only data from the 324 women who completed the baseline and identified themselves as African American were used in this study. Women's causal attributions related to intentionality (intentional versus incidental violence) were regressed on six categories of coping strategies (placating, resistance, formal help source, informal help source, safety planning, and legal strategies) and on three clusters of PTSD symptoms (intrusion, avoidance, and arousal). Finally, regressions were conducted to determine how women's coping strategies were related to their PTSD outcomes. It was found that Intentional attributions predicted significant distress associated with all three clusters of PTSD symptoms while Incidental attributions did not significantly predict distress related to any of the PTSD clusters. Passive coping strategies, namely, placating and informal help source coping strategies, also predicted distress related to PTSD. Attributions did not significantly predict abused women's coping strategies. The author concludes that how abused women interpret and react to the violence they experience plays a substantial role in their mental health outcomes. Findings show the clinical relevance of women's coping trajectories for understanding IPV. The manuscript also discusses how women's ethnic minority status and cultural beliefs affect women's interpretation and reaction to violence.
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