This study examined women's perceptions of social reactions for an incident of intimate partner abuse (IPA) reported to law enforcement.
Researchers using the Social Reactions Questionnaire (SRQ; Ullman, 2000) have documented links between women's perceptions of social reactions following sexual assault and trauma-related distress (e.g., self-blame, problem drinking, and posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptoms). The SRQ has been used primarily with female sexual assault victims with instructions to think about reactions from other people told about the assault. Research has generally relied on cross-sectional methods and assumed that social reactions lead to trauma-related outcomes. Reliance on cross-sectional methods has impeded testing assumptions about directionality (e.g., trauma-related distress might increase negative social reactions from others). Furthermore, links between victims' reports of negative social reactions and distress might reflect an overall negative reporting bias. At a baseline interview (within approximately 28 days of the IPA incident), the current study assessed demographic factors, characteristics of the IPA, and social support, as well as depression and PTSD symptom severity. One year later, PTSD symptom severity consistently predicted women's reports of negative social reactions from others, though not positive social reactions. This research advances understanding of social reactions and points to the role that PTSD symptom severity may have in contributing to social reactions, not only being a consequence of social reactions. (Publisher abstract modified)