Exploring Negative Emotion in Women Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence: Shame, Guilt, and PTSD


This study explored the association of shame and guilt with PTSD among women who had experienced intimate partner violence (IPV). Sixty-three women were assessed by a research clinic serving the mental health needs of women IPV survivors. Results indicated that shame, guilt-related distress, and guilt-related cognitions showed significant associations with PTSD but global guilt did not. When shame and guilt were examined in the context of specific forms of psychological abuse, moderation analyses indicated that high levels of both emotional/verbal abuse and dominance/isolation interacted with high levels of shame in their association with PTSD. Neither guilt-related distress nor guilt-related cognitions were moderated by specific forms of psychological abuse in their association with PTSD. These data support the conceptualization of shame, guilt distress, and guilt cognitions as relevant features of PTSD. Results are discussed in light of proposed changes to diagnostic criteria for PTSD. © 2011.

Publication Title

Behavior Therapy