The psychological abuse of men by their partners has been acknowledged as an important form of partner abuse in domestic violence research. There is dearth of psychological research on emotional abuse of males by their intimate partners. The sample comprised of 150 males (equal number of married and unmarried/ in an intimate relationship), in the age range of (18-30 years old). Guttman Emotional Abuse Questionnaire and Impact of Event Scale (Weiss & Marmar) were used. Analysis of data showed that the intimate partner emotional abuse and PTSD were significantly correlated. The results revealed that men can be victims of intimate partner emotional abuse leading to PTSD. Women were perpetrators of this kind of abuse in all cases. Results also showed that the participants who were married had higher PTSD symptoms than unmarried men and significantly less likely to experience PTSD and also unmarried participants had higher levels of emotional abuse than married participants.
Keywords: Intimate Partner Emotional Abuse, PTSD, Men, Victim.
Anintimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy.1 Intimate partner violence (IPV), which includes physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of one partner by another, is a national social and health problem affecting thousands of individuals and families. 2 Women typically suffer more physical and psychological injuries than men who experience female perpetrated violenc.3, 4 Male victims of domestic violence have been seriously neglected in public policy, but they are not rare at all, they’re just less likely to report it.5 However, the researchers have revealed the significance of IPV on male victims, specifically the study of psychological abuse against men.4, 6, 7
Walker described six components of emotional abuse: (a)verbal attacks (ridicule, verbal harassment, name calling); (b)isolation (social or financial); (c)jealousy/possessiveness (even with family, friends, and pets); (d)verbal threats of harm, abuse, or torture; (e)threats to divorce, abandon, or have an affair; and (f)damage to or destruction of personal property.8 Emotional abuse is very common and extremely damaging to victims. Many of IPV survivors have asserted that emotional abuse is worse than physical abuse and has long-lasting effects.9 Emotional abuse is a significant predictor of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and negative mood and psychosomatic complaints. 10
Studies of female victims of IPV have repeatedly shown that physical IPV leading to symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder 11,12,13,14,15,16 but between 25% and 50% of victims of physical IPV in a given year are men.2, 17, 18 The association between psychological abuse and negative health outcomes in men required more exploration in future to better understand this association. Studies showed that in intimate partner relationship, one of the strongest predictors for violence is the experience of violence in the family. Intimate partner abuse is a learnt pattern of behavior, so abusiveness is not a lack of control and it is not an illness. 19
According to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual DSM-IV, PTSD is a psychiatric condition that follow the experience of a traumatic incident, the symptoms tend to cluster on three dimensions: persistent reexperiencing of the trauma, persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and persistent increased arousal.20 Many people who experience a traumatic event having at least some symptoms of PTSD.11,12,14,15 Although psychological or mild physical IPV can elicited posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. 11,13,14,16
Psychological abuse strongly associated with PTSD as compare to physical IPV.21 Hines and Saudino found that women are more likely to perpetrate psychological than physical aggression toward male partners. 22 Researchers like Randle and Graham have demonstrated the emotionally abused men can experience depression, psychological distress and PTSD.23 Hines and Douglas also noted the associations between emotional abuse and post traumatic stress symptoms in men.24
Participants consisted of (n=150) males with equal number of married and unmarried (in a relationship with female partner).The data for the study was collected from DAV College, Government College for boys in Chandigarh, India. Participants had to be between the ages of 18-35 years old. They also had to have been involved in an intimate relationship at least for 4-5 years.
Participants were given the questionnaires regarding demographics, aggressive behaviors that they and their female partners may have used and more detailed information regarding their last argument (if applicable), their mental health and various risk factors.
2.3.1. Gottman Emotional Abuse Questionnaire (GEAQ)
This test developed by Gottman and Gottman in (2009) at the Gottman Institute, it consist of 25 items with two choice of true and false answers. Reliability and validity of test are satisfied.
Impact of Events Scale – Revised (IES-R)
The IES-R was developed in Weiss and Marmar (1997) to reflect the DSM-IV criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The original Impact of Events Scale (IES) predated the adoption of PTSD as a ‘legitimate’ diagnosis in the DSM-III of 1980 and measured two of the four DSM-IV criteria for PTSD. However, the response format in the IES assesses the ‘frequency of symptoms’ (not at all = 0, rarely = 1, sometimes = 3 and often = 5) and was changed in the IES-R to measure ‘symptom severity’ (0 = not at all, 1 = a little bit, 2 = moderately, 3 = quite a bit and 4 = extremely).
Men were asked basic demographic information themselves and their partners including age, income, education, occupation and also asked about current status of their relationship (Married, Unmarried, divorce, Cohabitation) and how many children involved in that relationship.
Data analyses were completed using SPSS version 8.0 Software. Descriptive statics viz, mean and standard deviation was performed. Pearson r was used to find the co- relationship between intimate partner emotional abuse and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and t-tests was used to find the differences in married and unmarried men.
3.1. Differences between samples in Demographics, Intimate Partner Emotional Abuse (IPEA) and other mediators
The differences between the married and unmarried samples in demographic characteristics showed that, in terms of overall violence, unmarried men had a higher prevalence of violence than married men. Marital status showed that unmarried men were more likely to be young compared to married men. Married and unmarried men also differed in respect to education. Unmarried men were also much more likely to have had a previous marriage and in terms of relationship, unmarried men were much more likely to have short duration relationship compared to married men. Also women were perpetrators of this kind of abuse in all cases.
3.2. Correlations between an intimate partner emotional abuse (IPEA) and PTSD:
The investigation revealed that men who sustained IPEA had a greater likelihood of reaching PTSD, the analysis showed that the association between IPEA and PTSD were significant (.843**) at level of 0.01. Then we divided the samples into two groups married (n=75) and unmarried (n=75) to obtain the correlation between IPEA and PTSD in unmarried men and unmarried men separately. Table 1 contains the mean, standard deviation and standard error mean of emotional abuse and PTSD for both married and unmarried and indicates the t-test to find the differences of emotional abuse and PTSD in married and unmarried men.
Table 1.The obtained mean and standard deviations and t-ratio are presented.
t – ratio
Emotional Abuse Married
Significant at p< .01 level
Table 2.Correlation between IPEA and PTSD
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level(2-tailed).
In table 2 showed that there is significantly positive relationship between intimate partner emotional abuse (IPEA) and PTSD, it means that the higher intimate partner emotional abuse is a higher PTSD among men.
Table 3.Correlation of intimate partner emotional abuse (IPEA) and PTSD in Married and Unmarried
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Table 3 showed that the correlation between emotional abuse and PTSD in married and unmarried men. Results indicates that correlation between emotional abuse and PTSD in married men were significant (.709**) at level 0.01 and unmarried men were positively significant (866**) at level 0.01.
“Today, IPV is recognized as a serious problem, which affects the personal and familial well-being”.25 Straus reported that men are not considered traditional victims of intimate partner violence, but between 2007 and 2009, male who denounced cases of IPV in Porto, compute for a relevant portion of all the victims of IPV.26 General knowledge about this phenomena has increased over the years, therefore, it is expected that the number of victims who look for help become more. In so many cases, men did not report that they have abused by their intimate partner, particularly because they afraid of being an object of ridicule.25, 27 In a specific society, it is expected that men are not abused by women, but currently in western societies, where there is greater gender equality, the rate of male victims of IPV is significant.28
The present study, the first is to investigate the associations between PTSD and Intimate partner emotional abuse (IPEA) victimization among men which provides that the PTSD is a major concern among men who sustain IPEA. In addition, comparing the married and unmarried men and their association with PTSD then we are able to figure out the differences between married and unmarried who are emotionally abused and also suffering from PTSD.
A study examined PTSD symptoms in male and female survivors of IPV.21 Psychological abuse was strongly associated with PTSD as compare to physical IPV. Concerns with male victims of IPV, findings showed that women are more likely to perpetrate psychological than physical aggression toward male partners.22 In support of previous research, this research found that for both samples (married and unmarried men) who sustain IPEA were significantly high on PTSD.21,29, 6 The model for this sample was congruent with what others have found regarding the influence of prior history of abuse, sustaining trauma, and social support on PTSD.30
Consistent with past studies which showed that cohabiters, generally have a higher risk of violence than married.31,32,33,34,35 The current study found that cohabiting men have an elevated risk of experiencing IPEA as compared to married men. However the results showed that when comparing married and unmarried men, married men, who sustain IPEA, were significantly less likely to experience PTSD than those who were in an intimate relationship.
Typically women suffer more physical and psychological injuries than men.3,4,7 However, researchers have found the significance of IPV on male victims.4,6 In the current study the perpetrators were all women. According to these studies, women are as capable as men to perpetrate violence against their intimate partners and they do it more frequently. 36,37,38
According to demography, the study supports this concept as well. In addition to PTSD being exponentially higher in unmarried men, associations between PTSD and IPEA were somehow different. Regarding violence, unmarried men had a higher prevalence than married men of reporting having experienced violence. Marital status in unmarried men was more likely to be young compared to married men. In terms of education, married and unmarried men also were differed. Unmarried men were also much more likely to have had a previous marriage and in terms of relationship, unmarried men were much more likely to have short duration relationship compared to married men.
4.1. Study limitations
The limitations of current study need to be considered to future research. First, this is a correlation study, so assumption about causality cannot be strongly enacted. and third, Second, by analyzing the men’s reports of IPEA, it is possible that the men overestimated their female partner’s use of IPEA so we have no guarantee of the realness of their reports thus future studies should seek to obtain information from both sides.
The results of this study allowed us to conclude that men can be victims of intimate partner emotional abuse (IPEA). Analysis showed that the association between intimate partner emotional abuse and PTSD were significant and in all cases women were perpetrators of this kind of abuse. Results also showed that the participants who were married had higher PTSD symptoms than unmarried men and significantly less likely to experience PTSD and also unmarried participants had higher levels of emotional abuse than married participants. The results of this study and other works indicate that this may be the most fruitful way to provide treatment for men who have experienced IPEA and present with PTSD symptoms.
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