The Effects of Intimate Partner Violence on Mental Health in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand: Testing the Stress Process Model
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been investigated worldwide, yet few studies have systematically examined the mental health consequence among married women in the context of Southeast Asia, a diverse and vast region of Asia situated east of the Indian subcontinent and south of China. Although prior studies have examined the effects of physical and sexual IPV on mental health in this region, this study takes it a step further. Using the Stress Process Model as the theoretical framework, and primary survey data (i.e., the 2018 Religion, Family Life and Health Survey) collected from 2,400 married women aged 18-45 residing in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand in 2018, this study tests three conceptual models that examine the effects of IPV on mental health and the availability of resources that can offset and buffer the deleterious effects of IPV on mental health. They are: (1) the main effects model, (2) the offsetting effects model, and (2) the buffering effects model. Multivariate statistical analyses provide unequivocal evidence to support the main effects model in that all forms of IPV are significantly associated with heightened depressive symptoms. Moreover, while social connectedness as a measure of social support significantly offsets the effects of all forms of IPV on depressive symptom in Thailand, different measures of religious involvement, including religiousness, frequency of meditation or prayer, extent of religious guidance in life, and frequency of participation in religious activities, significantly but variably offset the detrimental effects of IPV on the mental health of married women across the three countries. As a result, the offsetting model is only partially validated in the context of Southeast Asia. Additionally, both social connectedness and religious involvement significantly but inconsistently buffer against the harmful effects of IPV on mental health in the Philippines and Thailand, whereas in Indonesia the buffering effects model is not supported. Study limitations and directions for future research are discussed.