This article examines the effect of abuse cessation on depressive symptoms among battered women.
The experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) places women at a higher risk for depression compared to the population of women in general. Previous research has indicated that even when these women leave the violent home, symptoms of depression do not necessarily abate. The authors interviewed 448 female victims of IPV who participated in Seattle, WA’s Women’s Wellness Study. Symptoms of depression were measured three times over a 2-year period after the women had left the violent home. Data were also collected on the occurrence of abuse after leaving the violent home; consistent with previous research that indicates battered women may continue to be victims of violence once they leave the abusive relationship. Results of statistical analyses revealed that, among those women who experienced psychological abuse only, cessation of abuse was correlated with a nonsignificant reduction in the likelihood of depression. Among the women with a history of physical or sexual abuse, coupled with psychological abuse, cessation of the physical abuse and sexual abuse was associated with a 27 percent decline in depression. Cessation of both types of abuse was associated with a 35 percent decline in the likelihood of depression. As such, the authors conclude that cessation of abuse among battered women is associated with decline in depressive symptoms over a 2-year period. However, despite the decline in depressive symptoms, depression remains a pervasive problem among battered women who leave the violent home. Tables, references