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Risk and Protective Factors for Pregnant Women Experiencing Psychological Abuse

NCJ Number
Journal of Emotional Abuse Volume: 4 Issue: 2 Dated: 2004 Pages: 53-70
Date Published
18 pages

This study examined the impact of a partner's psychological abuse on depression in pregnant women and whether or not social support reduced depression during pregnancy.


The study involved 200 pregnant women who were living in Michigan and participating in a longitudinal study. The women were administered the Conflict Tactics Scale, Severity of Violence Against Women Scales, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire. The first wave of the data collection occurred during the women's third trimester of pregnancy, and the second wave was completed 2-3 months postpartum to allow sufficient time for any postnatal "blues" to dissipate and sufficient time to meet the criteria for postpartum depression. The study found that the severity of psychological abuse experienced during pregnancy was significantly related to prenatal depressive symptoms. Similarly, depressive symptoms during the prenatal period predicted postnatal depressive symptoms. This is consistent with previous studies that have found prenatal depression to be predictive of postpartum depression in nonabused women. It was also found that emotional support buffered the effects of psychological abuse on women's depressive symptoms. Since the study did not measure psychological abuse in the postnatal interview, there was no finding on whether abuse that occurred during pregnancy carried over and continued to affect participants' adjustment and mental health in the postpartum period, whether or not the woman was still being abused. 3 tables and 55 references

Date Published: January 1, 2004