Psychology, Department of
Childhood Exposure to Family Violence and Adult Trauma Symptoms: The Importance of Social Support from a Spouse
Date of this Version
EVANS ET AL., PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA: THEORY, RESEARCH, PRACTICE, AND POLICY 6 (2014)
This study examines the roles of positive and negative social support from a spouse as potential moderators of associations between experiences of physical abuse and exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) as a child and adult trauma symptoms. We hypothesized that positive social support received from a spouse would have a buffering effect on trauma symptoms whereas negative social support from a spouse would have a potentiating effect. Participants were 193 newlywed couples (total N = 386) randomly recruited from a marriage license database. Participants completed self-report questionnaires measuring the nature and severity of child maltreatment and trauma symptoms, and they engaged in a brief videotaped task in which they discussed a personal problem with their partner. Positive and negative support behaviors exhibited during the recorded task were then coded. Results of dyadic data analysis (actor partner interdependence model) indicated that positive social support from a spouse buffered against trauma symptoms among men who were exposed to IPV during childhood whereas negative social support from a spouse potentiated trauma symptoms among men who were exposed either to IPV or child physical abuse (CPA). The buffering and potentiating effects of spousal support were reduced among men who were exposed to increasingly severe levels of IPV and CPA. By contrast, women’s trauma symptoms were unrelated to positive or nega-tive support from a spouse. These findings extend prior research by suggesting that, for men, day-to-day provisions of support from a spouse may play a key role in posttraumatic recovery.