• A longitudinal exploration of the factors that affect the timing of women's decisions to leave abusive relationships

      Panchanadeswaran, Subadra; DePanfilis, Diane (2002)
      Objectives. The objectives of this study were three-fold: (1) To describe the timing of abused women's departure from abusive relationships, (2) To empirically identify the factors that affect women's decisions to exit violent relationships, and (3) To examine life satisfaction levels of women who left with that of women who remained in abusive relationships for at least 10 years. Potential factors were identified based on evidence from earlier research. Methods. This study was based on secondary data analysis of a 10-year longitudinal data set of ethnically diverse abused and non-abused women. The current study sample comprised of 100 eligible abused women from a convenience sample of 362 abused and non-abused women in the original study. Data were collected in three waves from in-person interviews by trained interview coordinators. Data for this study were analyzed using event history analyses and MANCOVA techniques. Results. Three Cox regression models were constructed to explore the predictors of the timing of women's decisions to exit abusive relationships. In model 1, five variables predicted the timing of women's decision to exit abusive relationships: age, ethnicity, alcohol consumption levels of women and their partners and the frequency of less severe physical aggression (as per less severe physical aggression subscale of CTS) after controlling for other variables in the model. In addition to age, ethnicity, alcohol consumption levels of women and their partners, there was a significant interaction between the frequency of less severe physical aggression and shelter use in model 2. In model 3, age, ethnicity, alcohol consumption levels of women and the frequency of verbal aggression (as per verbal aggression subscale of CTS) emerged as predictors. Women who left their abusive partners did not differ significantly in their life satisfaction levels when compared with those who had remained in the abusive relationships for at least 10 years. Implications. Social workers intervening with abused women need to be better informed of the factors that are critical for women's safety, optimal times for intervention, and the possible avenues that could help women to resolve their victimization. This knowledge has significant implications for both clinicians and policy developers.