Predicting three types of dissociation in female survivors of intimate partner violence.
Previous research suggests that studying the effect of dissociation is particularly important in survivors of intimate partner violence because of the risk of revictimization. The current study investigated demographic variables, child and current abuse characteristics, coping style, and cognitive distortions as predictors of peritraumatic, trait, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-related dissociation in a sample of female intimate partner violence survivors. The sample consisted of 372 women, the majority African American, with an average age of 34.41 years (SD = 8.09). Peritraumatic dissociation was significantly predicted by child physical abuse, current abuse injury, cognitive distortions about safety, and problem disengagement coping. Trait dissociation was significantly predicted by minority race, personal income, and cognitive distortions about safety and self-worth. PTSD-related dissociation was significantly predicted by cognitive distortions about self-worth, problem and emotion disengagement coping, and peritraumatic dissociation. In the models predicting both trait and PTSD-related dissociation, abuse characteristics significantly predicted dissociation until the entry of cognitive variables into the model. The analysis indicated a significant indirect effect of cognitive distortions on the relationship between current sexual aggression and trait dissociation. Results also suggested that there were indirect effects of both cognitive distortions and peritraumatic dissociation on the relationships between current psychological abuse/injury and PTSD-related dissociation. Findings point to the importance of cognitions in the development and maintenance of dissociation and suggest that treatments designed to help clients accept and process traumatic events may help reduce dissociation and in turn prevent future revictimization.
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