Demand/withdraw communication in the context of intimate partner violence: Implications for psychological outcomes


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). To clarify the influence of a dyadic conflict pattern that has previously been shown to accompany violence in romantic relationships (partner demand/self withdraw) on these mental health outcomes, we examined the associations between three forms of IPV (physical, emotional-verbal, dominance-isolation), partner demand/self withdraw, and PTSD and GAD symptoms, in a sample of 284 IPV-exposed women. Using structural equation modeling, we found significant associations between dominance-isolation IPV, partner demand/self withdraw, and clinician-assessed GAD symptoms. Associations between emotional-verbal IPV and partner demand/self withdraw were also significant. Associations for physical IPV, partner demand/self withdraw, and clinician-assessed PTSD symptoms were not statistically significant. These results underscore the need for research on the mental health outcomes associated with specific forms of IPV and the long-term psychological consequences of the conflict patterns that uniquely characterize violent relationships.

Publication Title

Journal of Anxiety Disorders