Divorcing mothers' use of protective strategies: Differences over time and by violence experience

Megan L. Haselschwerdt, Elissa Thomann Mitchell, Marcela Raffaelli, Jennifer L. Hardesty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The current study considered protective strategy use at various points in time for divorcing mothers with a range of marital violence experiences (including no history of violence and different types of violence). Method: Divorcing mothers (N = 170) from 1 Midwestern county participated in 2 in-person interviews that included structured assessments of intimate partner violence (IPV) during the last year of marriage and use of protective strategies at 3 time points-last year of marriage and at separation (both assessed at Time 1) and since the first interview (at a 3 month follow-up). Results: Divorcing mothers, regardless of marital violence experience, used an array of private and public protective strategies during the last year of marriage, at separation, and at the 3-month follow up interview. In general, mothers who experienced coercive controlling violence reported using more protective strategies than mothers who experienced situational couple violence or no violence. Strategy use peaked at separation with an increase in public strategy use. Conclusions: All divorcing mothers use a range of active coping strategies over time, yet findings emphasize the importance of making distinctions between types of IPV so that divorcing mothers receive individualized resources and support that best meet their needs and minimize potentials risks and losses as they navigate the divorce process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-192
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Divorce
  • Domestic violence
  • Help-seeking
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Protective strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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