The predictive relationship between trauma exposure and intimate partner violence
There is a large body of research on the after-effects of trauma on children and military adults, but less is known about outcomes of trauma experienced by civilian adults. There is also limited research on the relationship between specific traumatic events and the development of specific subtypes of posttraumatic growth. This study was designed to assess the presence of a predictive relationship between exposure to trauma and intimate partner violence (IPV). Specific trauma as a correlate of specific posttraumatic growth (PTG) was also measured. Participants (N=186) were college students seeking course credit for an introductory psychology course. Surveys were used to assess exposure to trauma, incidence of IPV, and presence of PTG. Data were analyzed using multivariate regression and correlation to determine the predictive associations between trauma exposure and IPV, and test for relationships between specific trauma and specific PTG. Results indicate that trauma exposure explains a small but significant proportion of variance in IPV perpetration. These results imply that the greater the number of traumatic events that one experiences, the more likely one is to perpetrate physical IPV. Correlations revealed highly significant relationships between victimization and perpetration of both psychological and physical IPV. This suggests that both forms of IPV are likely to co-occur and that individuals are likely to engage in both victimization and perpetration. Correlations also revealed significant relationships between specific traumas and development of specific PTG subtypes. This finding suggests that there may be certain traumatic events that provide more opportunity than others for the development of posttraumatic growth. This could provide guidance for clinicians working with those exposed to those traumatic events.