Synergistic Effects of Psychological Intimate Partner Violence Exposure and Gender Discrimination on Postnatal Mental Health Trajectories

Danyelle N. Dawson, Vanessa V. Volpe, Heidemarie Kaiser Laurent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

While the literature examining physical intimate partner violence (IPV) is extensive, the impact of psychological IPV on mental health during high-risk times such as the period following childbirth is not well understood. The current study examined associations between psychological IPV and the course and severity of women’s postnatal mental health symptoms (depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms). Both main effects of psychological IPV exposure and possible exacerbation by broader social victimization (i.e., gender discrimination) were considered. Participants were 76 mothers from a larger longitudinal study, who completed self-report measures of IPV, gender discrimination, and affective symptoms at 3, 6, 12, and 18 months postnatal. Hierarchical linear modeling revealed a main effect of psychological IPV on the course of trauma symptoms only. As hypothesized, gender discrimination moderated the effect of psychological IPV on all symptom trajectories in a synergistic manner. At moderate to high levels of gender discrimination only, psychological IPV predicted higher affective symptom severity and an escalating course of postnatal anxiety symptoms. These findings underscore the importance of expanding current conceptualizations of IPV impacts to incorporate relevant aspects of individuals’ social-ecological context. Future directions and implications for prevention and intervention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • gender discrimination
  • intimate partner violence
  • postnatal
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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