Date of Award

Fall 12-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

PhD Family Psychology

Department

Professional Psychology and Family Therapy

Advisor

Ben Beitin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert F. Massey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Adriana Balaguer Dunn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Pamela F. Foley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sharon Davis Massey, Ph.D.

Keywords

childhood abuse, domestic violence, adult attachment style, lesbian relationships

Abstract

ABSTRACT

There is an abundance of previous research proving that childhood abuse and adult domestic violence is an increasingly serious problem (Smith Slep, & O’Leary, 2005). However, while studies have shown that lesbian intimate battering occurs as frequently, if not more than, heterosexual domestic violence (Gosselin, [ARF1] 2003; Niolon, 2002), it remains understudied. Therefore, this study not only examines the relationship between childhood abuse and intimate lesbian violence but also secure and insecure attachment styles. Children who witness domestic violence or who are victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse are likely to repeat or engage in violent relationships later in life (O’Keefe, 1997; van der Kolk, 2009). Victimized children are also at a greater risk of developing unhealthy, insecure ways of relating (Siegel & Hartzell, 2003).

Unexpectedly, childhood abuse or exposure to domestic violence was not found to directly impact adult aggression, but it did influence attachment style. As predicted, women who were victimized or exposed to violence in childhood were less inclined to feel close in their intimate relationships and were fearful of rejection. It was also found that lesbian women who were securely attached experienced less aggression in their intimate relationships. Limitations, implications for therapists, and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.