Group Title: psychological functioning, self-concept, and locus of control of battered women in a spouse abuse shelter
Title: The psychological functioning, self-concept, and locus of control of battered women in a spouse abuse shelter
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: The psychological functioning, self-concept, and locus of control of battered women in a spouse abuse shelter
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Wilson, Judy Katrina, 1944-
Copyright Date: 1985
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00102793
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltuf - AEH5151
oclc - 14772013

Full Text







Copyright 1985


3udy Katrina Wilson


A project of this intimate nature could not be suc-

cessful without the trust, faith and honest effort of all

the subjects. The 16 women who participated in this study

let me into their lives, their fear, their anxieties, and

their self-doubt. They have been judged by everyone around

them. They were sincerely hoping to help other women by re-

vealing their pain and trusting me to not judge them. I

will be forever grateful to these women.

I would like to thank all of my committee members

who helped in various ways over the years with their indi-

vidual advice and group encouragement. Their constructive

criticism and understanding during crucial and busy times

in the research and in my own job responsibilities were

always welcomed. My education is much richer because of

their concern. I would most like to thank them for being

available via long distance whenever I needed them.

As I reach the culmination of my graduate studies,

I would like to extend special gratitude to Dr. Ted

Landsman who encouraged me to continue seeking a higher de-

gree and who cultivated the need in me to become more self-

actualized with every day and to grow past any age.

I will be eternally grateful to my loving partner

and husband, Jim Shook, who matches my mother's dream of

what a husband should be. He can cook, type, and is also


brilliant. He has lent all these talents in helping me to

complete this research project and degree. He has under-

stood all these years when others would tease me about be-

ing a professional student that I meant it when I stood up

in first grade and said I wanted to be a Ph.D.

My staff at the Rape Crisis/Spouse Abuse Center has

been most supportive and deserves special thanks for tak-

ing over the office and emergency services while I was com-

pleting this project. They were particularly helpful in en-

couraging the subjects to participate and in allaying

their fears of revealing secrets to me. I feel that there

were no residents who refused to participate in the test-

ing and interviews because of the staff's attitude. I will

always be deeply grateful to my loving friend, Mary, who

escaped after 23 years and constantly encouraged me to con-

tinue with what she felt was desperately needed research.

Another special thank you is extended to John Dixon

who helped me to plan the analysis of data and who was

available whenever my work schedule allowed me time. His

kindness and ability to instruct well were calming in

anxious moments.

Finally, a special note goes to my mother who

became very ill and was hospitalized during the final

weeks of this project. She promised to get well and

survive the operation to see me graduate. I thank her and

my father for instilling in me from birth the need to

become better educated and to seek knowledge throughout my



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ........................................ iii
LIST OF TABLES.......................................... vii
ONE INTRODUCTION....................................

Statement of the Problem.....................
Purpose of the Study......................... 4
Need for the Study........................... 5
Significance of the Study ...................8
Definition of Terms .........................9
Organization of the Study ..................11

TWO REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.......................12

Psychological Effects of Spouse Abuse...... 13
Learned Helplessness .......................24
Self-Concept ................................. 27
Locus of Control ...........................33
Related Studies ............................45
Shelter Counseling Programs ................45
Summary .................................... 50

THREE METHODOLOGY....................................51

Research Design ............................51
Research Questions .........................53
Population and Sample.......................54
Instruments ................................ 54
Procedures ................................. 60
Analysis of Data ...........................62
Limitations ................................63

FOUR RESULTS AND DISCUSSION .........................66

Results of the Study .......................66
Individual Case Studies.................... 67
Individual and Group Data on the MMPI,
TSCS, and ANS-IE .......................136
Summary of Data by Research Question...... 139
Discussion of the Results .................144

AND RECOMMENDATIONS........ ...... ... .........149

Conclusions. .............................. 149
Implications. ............................. 150
Summary .................................. 152
Recommendations ............................154


A STRUCTURED INTERVIEW FORM.....................157

B INFORMED CONSENT ..............................182

TSCS, AND ANS-IE ..........................184



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ..................................209



2-1 Profile of a Batterer ................19
2-2 Characteristics of the Self Concept..30


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy




August, 1985

Chairman: Rod McDavis, Ph.D.
Major Department: Counselor Education

Previous case studies have suggested that battered

women have various deficits in their psychological func-

tioning which include a low self-concept and an external

locus of control. The purpose of this study was to assess

and describe in detail these psychological characteristics

with battered women in a spouse abuse shelter for the

first time.

Case study narratives and individual and group data

were presented for 16 battered women in a shelter. They

participated in interviews and completed a structured ques-

tionnaire, the N PI, the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale,

and the Adult Nowicki-Strickland locus of control scale.

All subjects were living in a conjugal-type relationship

with their batterers.


Results indicated that these women were functioning

at an average to below average level and they experienced

many serious psychological problems in several of the

areas assessed by the instruments. A low self-concept and

external locus of control as reported in the literature

also were discovered. Results also indicated that these

battered women had made active attempts to appease their

batterers and to escape or avoid the violence. They were

not completely passive as previously reported in portions

of the literature.

Conclusions of this study were that spouse abuse

may have a severe negative effect on the psychological

functioning of the battered woman. There may be a post bat-

tering personality as a result of the abuse. These bat-

tered women were not prone to seek community or outside

help until the abuse caused great bodily harm or threat-

ened to become lethal. Only one subject had been involved

in a counseling relationship prior to admission to the

shelter. Implications for shelter counselor training and

treatment issues were discussed.


Statement of the Problem

The psychological needs of battered women residing

in spouse abuse shelters have only recently been addressed

by researchers and therapists. Early in the 1970's advo-

cates for spouse abuse victims developed safe housing pro-

grams throughout England and then in America. The first

shelter programs concentrated on providing food, clothing

and safety from the battering husband in a confidential

location, but many of these women returned to their abu-

sive husbands and relationships within a few days as the

bruises began to fade. The cycle of violence as described

by Walker (1979) would once again begin. Recent research

in the field has concentrated on the psychological profile

of the battered woman and why she behaves and reacts the

way she does (Pagelow, 1981a; Rosewater, 1983; Walker,


Over the past 10 years shelter boards and staff

have been developing counseling programs for these women

and children residents. These programs attempt to inter-

vene in the psychological issues that profoundly influence

the lives and behaviors of spouse abuse victims. A major

point of agreement among mental health professionals is


that most victims of continued battering lack ego strength

and have problems with a negative self-concept

(Hilberman & Munson, 1978; Pagelow, 1981a; Walker,

1977-78, 1979). Most wife beating is preceded by emotional

or psychological abuse and almost all physical abuse is

accompanied by extreme verbal abuse (Dobash & Dobash,

1979; Flanzer, 1982; Gelles, 1979). This negative verbal

abuse is very powerful when stated by such a significant

other. It is generally believed among professionals that

repeated batterings may also produce an external locus of

control perception, learned helplessness, and a specific

victim personality profile (Symonds, 1975; Walker, 1979,


Research on spouse abuse and domestic violence has

previously focused on various factors: the frequency and

nature of wife beating, the perceived causes, a history of

violence in the family of origin, and incidences within

all levels of society (Eisenberg & Micklow, 1974;

Gelles, 1976; Martin, 1976; Roy, 1977; Steinmetz &

Straus, 1974; Walker, 1979). In the early victim studies

by Gayford (1975) and by Gelles (1972), various theories

were presented concerning wife provocation. Lester

(1980), later studied wife beating from a cross cultural

perspective and found that wife beating was much more com-

mon in societies in which the status of the female was in-

ferior to that of the male. Other studies were concerned

with societal conditioning, cultural conditioning through

sex role stereotyping, and learned behavior and modeling


(Bandura, 1977; Moore, 1979; Straus, Gelles, &

Steinmetz, 1979; Walker, 1977-78).

Information from case studies, counseling sessions,

and more recent survey research has revealed that battered

women, especially those who have had repeated batterings

or secondary battering (Pagelow, 1984, 1981a), develop

certain psychological deficits within their personalities

that prevent them from taking positive action to escape

the situation or to change their violent life style

(Walker, 1979). Other types of victims of repeated phys-

ical assaults, such as hostages or prisoners of war, seem

to develop similar personality characteristics in response

to the abuse (Symonds, 1975). These deficits coupled with

the road blocks presented to the battered wife by society

often leave her with few alternatives to help her stop the


Seligman (1975) commented on the pervasiveness of

helplessness in our world that has been so well learned by

certain members of our society. Walker (1979, 1983) hypo-

thesized the existence of a battered wife syndrome and in-

cluded learned helplessness as a major component. The bat-

tered woman often perceives no alternatives and feels that

her life is totally controlled by the batterer who de-

grades her both physically and verbally. Symonds (1975)

studied the reactions and lasting feelings of fear, des-

pair, hopelessness and worthlessness of victims who had

been repeatedly beaten. Murphy (1947) discussed how

certain traumatic events can cause an individual to alter

earlier self-appraisals from positive to negative.

Maslow (1954) theorized that in most instances an

individual's basic physiological and psychological safety

needs must be met before self-esteem can be established or

built. To feel good about one's self, a person usually

needs to feel safe from constant physical harm. Although

spouse abuse shelters provide a degree of safety, coun-

seling interventions need to be developed that aid the bat-

tered woman to increase personal control over her life and

her children's lives and to help her develop a more posi-

tive self-concept.

Two personality constructs, self-concept and locus

of control, seem to be crucial to an individual who is try-

ing to develop more efficient problem solving skills, more

effective coping mechanisms, and important to one who is

seeking various alternatives to solve a traumatic situa-

tion (Claerhont, Elder & Janis, 1982; Phares, 1976).

Both constructs are often mentioned throughout the profes-

sional and popular literature concerning spouse abuse.

Fitts (1972a) found that those people who see themselves

as undesirable, worthless or bad and incompetent tend to

act accordingly.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this present research was to inves-

tigate and identify by case study and other personality

measurement instruments the current psychological


functioning of battered women who are residing in a spouse

abuse shelter. Special emphasis also was placed on the

assessment of the self-concept and the locus of control

perceptions of these women. Relationships which existed

among these variables were examined. Nature, extent and

frequency of the battering with each subject was noted.

This study gathered baseline data concerning these vari-

ables and their relationship to each other in hopes of

developing information for future research in the field

and information for pertinent counseling interventions.

Need for the Study

Research has demonstrated that repeated emotional

and physical assaults from an intimate have major and

often devastating effects on the psychological functioning

of an individual and that these effects can generalize

into other areas of the victim's life. A battered woman

may take the view that she is worthless, stupid, and de-

serving of such punishment as has been discovered in

studies of abused children (Heifer & Kemp, 1968). Many

previous researchers and counselors have reported that bat-

tered wives also have a low self-concept (Martin, 1976;

Prescott & Letko, 1977; Walker, 1979). They have learned

to be helpless and are controlled by others or a powerful

other (Walker, 1977-78, 1979; Wetzel & Ross, 1983). They

experience a lack of motivation, impaired trust, and

depression and anxiety from these feelings and perceptions

(NiCarthy, 1982; Pagelow, 1981a; Prescott & Letko,


1977; Star, 1979). Walker (1979) labeled these feelings

and actions in battered women as the Battered Woman


Low self-concept and an external locus of control

perception have been associated with several important fac-

tors which can inhibit individuals from taking charge of

their lives and from developing non-violent life styles or

escaping violent marriages. Shelter counselors could ideal-

ly facilitate competent decision making and goal setting

by helping clients to rebuild their confidence, to raise

their self-concept, and to alleviate their doubts about

their own abilities as have other types of women's coun-

seling programs (Manis & Mochizuki, 1972). However, coun-

selors must first understand the spouse abuse victim's

present personality and feelings.

Existing research suggests that violence may be gen-

erational and continue to pass from parents to children

(Roy, 1977; Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1979). Stu-

dies in self-concept and locus of control variables demon-

strate that parents with a more positive self-concept and

an internal locus of control perception treat their chil-

dren differently and pass on different behaviors. Parents

with high self-concepts can engender high self-concepts in

their children which in turn helps their children to be

less apt to engage in hostile-aggressive behavior and feel

less angry (Saul, 1980; Yawkey, 1980). It has also been

proposed that parents who teach their children that there

is a link between what they do and what happens to them or


an internal locus of control have more positive mental

health (Bhagat & Chassie, 1978).

None of the previously mentioned studies focused on

the self-concept and locus of control views of the bat-

tered woman who is actively seeking safety and help and/or

is trying to escape a violent husband. Self-concept and

locus of control constructs have been studied extensively

in children (Fitts & Hamner, 1969; Kanoy, Johnson &

Kanoy, 1980; Nowicki & Strickland, 1973; Phares, 1976;

Yawkey, 1980) and in adult populations (Fitts, 1972b;

Lefcourt, 1982; Phares, 1976). As discussed earlier,

shelter professionals are now becoming specifically inte-

rested in the personality constructs of self-concept and

locus of control since those constructs seem to affect de-

cisions which a battered woman must make to develop a con-

tinuing nonviolent and safe life style for herself and her

children (Gelles, 1976; Hartik,1982; Hendricks-

Matthews, 1982; Pagelow, 1984; Rosewater, 1983; Walker,


Successful shelter counseling programs could be de-

veloped to provide positive intervention for battered

women who are experiencing negative feelings of incom-

petence and worthlessness coupled with a lack of motiva-

tion or helplessness. Battered women need to learn to be-

lieve that their own behavior can affect what happens to

them and to their children before they can change their

violent life style (Walker, 1979). To develop such pro-

grams more information must be obtained concerning the


actual psychological functioning of these victims when

they are seeking shelter.

Recently a few researchers have assessed the above

mentioned variables with battered women, concentrating on

one or two variables in each study, i.e., locus of con-

trol, self-concept, anxiety, fear (Gellen, Hoffman,

Jones, & Stone, 1984; Gravdal, 1982; Hartik, 1982;

Launius, 1983; Lewis, 1982; Rosewater, 1983; Walker,

1983). The subjects in these studies were mixed samples of

battered women and nonbattered women or currently battered

women and formerly battered women. To date there are no

published studies assessing all of these variables (psycho-

logical functioning, self-concept, and locus of control)

and their relationship to each other for battered women

who are first entering and residing in a spouse abuse shel-


Significance of the study

This study is significant because most experts in

the field will agree that if a woman's attempts at therapy

or escape are not successful, she stands an excellent

chance of returning to her violent home where there is a

high risk of murder (Davidson, 1978; Dobash & Dobash,

1979; Hendricks-Mattheus, 1982; Truninger, 1971;

Walker, 1980). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

reported in the late 1970's that 40% of all murders of

women are committed by their husbands or boyfriends

(Davidson, 1978).


It is important that shelter program counselors

develop interventions which are successful for the woman

resident. It is theorized by spouse abuse researchers that

a woman who can develop some control over her own life and

the assertiveness to exert this control plus a positive

self-concept will be able to leave her violent partner and

stay away from any marriage that has recurring violence.

Until the advent of shelters battered women did not submit

to interviews concerning their "secret problem." Also

there were no treatment facilities or shelters for abused

wives where they could freely and without shame or guilt

discuss their problems and not have to cover up for their


This study addressed a neglected area of inquiry

and will contribute to the paucity of research on the psy-

chological functioning, the self-concept, and the locus of

control views of spouse abuse victims, specifically bat-

tered women residing in a spouse abuse shelter for the

first time.

Definition of terms

Battered woman was defined as any woman who has been

intentionally assaulted by her mate in ways which cause

her pain or injury. Physical assaults consist of punching,

kicking, burning, using a weapon against her, throwing

items or furniture at her or beating her head or body

against objects, walls, etc.


SBatterer was defined as any man living in a conjugal

type relationship with a woman whom he physically assaults

as described above.

Learned helplessness was defined as the end result of a

process in which the individual learns to believe that

desired outcomes are independent of that individual's res-

ponses. The person learns uncontrollability.

Self-concept was defined as a personality construct in

which an individual develops a unique set of perceptions,

ideas, and attitudes about one's self. These perceptions

are built upon past experience and interactions with

others. It may also be described as a feeling of worth,

value and effectiveness which develops as a result of and

in response to the reaction of significant others.

Locus of control was defined as one's generalized ex-

pectancy about behavior-consequence contingencies. Inter-

nals usually attribute success and/or failures to their

own actions. Externals usually give credit to powerful

others, fate, luck, chance or God.

-Spouse abuse was defined as the situation in which one

spouse or partner physically assaults the other spouse or


Spouse abuse shelter was defined as a residential facil-

ity which provides safe and confidential housing for bat-

tered women. Time of residency can vary from a few days to

several months.


Organization of the Study

Chapter Two surveys the pertinent literature in

three major areas. The first section is comprised of the

history and effects of wife beating, the dynamics of the

battering relationship and the psychological profile of

the battered woman and her abusing husband. This section

also discusses the results of battering upon the personal-

ity of the victim.

The second major area discusses literature which is

relevant to the personality constructs of self-concept and

locus of control and their importance to the battered

woman's dilemma. The third major area reviews the per-

tinent literature concerning the role of shelter counsel-

ing program staff and interventions.

Chapter Three describes the study design, the re-

search questions, the population and sample, the instru-

ments, procedures, analysis of data, and limitations of

this study. The results of this study are presented and

discussed in Chapter Four. The conclusions, implications,

and summary of these results, and recommendations are pre-

sented in Chapter Five.


The review of the literature focuses on three major

areas pertinent to this study: the psychodynamics of the

battered wife and the physically abusive marriage and part-

ner, the personality constructs of self-concept and of

locus of control, and the spouse abuse shelter counseling

movement in this country.

Contrary to the earlier victim prone studies of 15

years ago, recent research on battered wives considers the

possibility that the abused wife's current psychological

functioning is a result, not a cause, of her victimization

(Gellen, Hoffman, Jones, & Stone, 1984; Hartik, 1982;

Rosewater, 1983; Walker, 1983). Wife beating has been a

time honored tradition in many families in our culture for

hundreds of years. During the past decade sociologists and

psychologists have investigated the causes of wife beating

from various perspectives. Spouse abuse in modern times

has been estimated as occurring at least once in 30-50% of

American marriages (Gelles, 1980; Straus, Gelles, &

Steinmetz, 1979; Walker, 1979). The average American wife

takes a much greater risk of being assaulted in her own

marital home than in walking on the streets of any crime

ridden city in the United States (Thorman, 1980).



Reasons for the occurrence of spouse abuse and soci-

ety's lack of response to the victims also have been re-

searched with great interest; however, there is a notice-

able scarcity of reported studies which assess the bat-

tered wife's current psychological functioning. Before

1982 there was even less empirical research on her self-

concept and locus of control perceptions. There were a few

studies and research papers concerning these variables be-

ginning that year (Gravdal, 1982; Hartik, 1982;

Launius, 1983; Lewis, 1982).

Beating and physically disciplining one's wife have

been allowed and often regulated by law since ancient

times. There have even been laws concerning how men could

beat their wives and on what days (Chapman & Gates,

1978). Martin Luther recorded in detail his own wife

abuse and Friar Cherubino of Srena (1450-1481) compiled

a text on the Rules of Marriage which stated that wife

beating was condoned by law (Flanzer, 1982). In the first

American 13 colonies rules and regulations were abundant

as to how to physically chastise one's wife.

Psychological Effects of Spouse Abuse

Many experts in the study of spouse abuse express

the view that the socialization of the typical American

girl prepares her to be easily victimized by a brutal domi-

neering husband. Her identity is often founded on being

the nurturant caretaker for others and on being pleasing

to others but not on being a nurturer to herself. Her


self-concept may well depend upon her ability to be a good

wife and homemaker, whether or not she has another career

(Ball & Wyman, 1977-78; Walker, 1978). Various surveys of

women have reported that women feel their happiness should

come through marriage and the success or failure of that

marriage also is the woman's responsibility (Pagelow,

1981a). Martin (1976) discovered that the battered wife

may also come to the conclusion, as many shelter coun-

selors have related, that the more violent her husband is,

the sicker he is and thus the more he needs her.

The literature reports that the typical battered

wife usually assumes responsibility for the batterer's

actions at some point in time, internalizes this blame,

and is not able to perceive alternatives to end her situa-

tion or her conflicting feelings (Ball & Wyman, 1977-78;

Fleming, 1979; Hendricks-Matthews, 1982; Walker, 1983).

A study comparing non-battered women to battered women in

a rural area reported that the battered women studied were

also more likely to produce avoidant and dependent ineffec-

tive alternatives to problems (Claerhont, Elder, &

Janis, 1982).

Psychological problems are similar throughout the

psychological case studies and the sociological surveys.

Low self-concept, chronic anxiety and/or depression,

learned helplessness, denial, shame, guilt, psychosomatic

complaints, and social isolation and withdrawal are all

characteristics of the battered wife (Dobash & Dobash,

1979; Gelles, 1976; Straus, 1977-78).


Battered women become passive and compliant as a

survival technique. The abused wife's powerlessness is

often enhanced by the uncaring and judgmental attitude

and treatment which she receives from the social systems

around her. Ball and Wyman (1977-78) emphasized in their

work with abused women that living in a battering relation-

ship only increases the feelings of powerlessness and

worthlessness that women are already socialized by our cul-

ture to feel.

Research studies report that victims who withstand

intensive and extended periods of abuse have similar char-

acteristics. They can become extremely depressed, their

thinking may become confused and distorted, and they exper-

ience feelings of self-doubt and guilt (Rosewater, 1983;

Symonds, 1975; Thorman, 1980). The battered wife experi-

ences a serious additional factor: repeated acts of vio-

lence administered by someone who is supposed to love her

can seriously damage her self-concept and lead to emo-

tional confusion as discovered by Straus, Gelles, &

Steinmetz (1979). The battered wife's lowered sense of

self-concept may lead her to underestimate her ability to

do anything on her own or to do anything about the


In the physically abusive marriage logical relation-

ships do not occur and usual responses do not always fol-

low customary reactions (Davidson, 1978; Fleming, 1979).

The wife may change her responses to ones that she hopes

are more acceptable to her husband. Her abuser changes his


mind later and wants another response. The wife then

begins to feel persecuted. She becomes isolated from con-

tact with others and she can receive no logical feedback

on her situation or her feelings (NiCarthy, 1982; Walker,


Symonds (1975) explored the psychological reac-

tions of victims of violent crimes and reported a differ-

ence between the reactions of victims of sudden unexpected

attacks and those who have extended contact with their ag-

gressor as occurs in hostage-taking or a kidnapping. Vic-

tims of these type crimes feel overwhelming terror which

causes clinging, nonthinking behavior. The victim begins

to view the attacker as a protector and begins to appease

this person in an effort to survive. Symonds found a fro-

zen fright response which was so extensive that the victim

felt helpless to escape. In Symonds's cases women seemed

to manifest the frozen, frightened response more than men.

Several other researchers have noted that the bat-

tered woman has a deeply ingrained sense of terror which

can become overwhelming. She feels hopeless about escaping

and believes that her survival depends on her ability to

appease or satisfy her husband or he will track her down

(Flanzer, 1982; Pizzey, 1974). Reported interviews with

shelter directors in England and America prove that a bat-

terer will follow his wife for months after she leaves him

(Davidson, 1978; Fleming, 1979; Roy, 1977; Walker,

1979). Pfouts (1978) found that this extreme fear becomes

expressed in passive behaviors. Battered women are afraid


to stay and are terrified to leave for fear of inescapable

reprisals (Walker, 1979; Wardell, Gillespie, & Leffler,

1983). Walker (1983) found evidence to support that a temp-

orary separation of the couple does increase the violence

at a later date if she returns to her batterer.

One must also understand the personality profile of

the battering husband and how he relates to his wife to

fully comprehend a battered woman's reactions and emo-

tions. The typical wife beater is described throughout the

recent literature as an insecure, immature abuser of power

who often manifests Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde behavior (Allen &

Straus, 1975; Ponzetti, Cate, & Koval, 1982). He is

usually seen by the general public as a "good Joe" but he

can experience periods of domineering, hostile, tyrannical

behavior when in the privacy of his own home.

Case studies and recent programs for batterers

such as EMERGE and Batterers Anonymous report that bat-

terers feel excessive jealousy and will try to isolate the

wife from most outside contact including her parents

(Allen & Straus, 1975; Flanzer, 1982). He can become the

master of overkill; one day he beats her for a minor dis-

agreement and the next day he is in the remorseful stage

and showers her with love, affection and gifts. This atti-

tude and style of overkill may permeate many aspects of

their marriage. Davidson (1978) discovered in her inter-

views that a wife beater actually may feel that his wife

should be punished if she violates certain standards of be-

havior which the husband defines. This type of husband


will often accuse his wife of imagined infidelities and be-

rate her for being a poor wife and mother (Pagelow,

1981a). Wetzel and Ross (1983) have collected 11 charac-

teristics shared by battering husbands. These and others

noted in the literature are displayed in Table 2-1

(Fleming, 1979; Ponzetti, Cate, & Koval, 1982; Roy,


The batterer externalizes blame for his attacks and

tells his wife that she made him mad at her, or that he

lost control of himself because he was drinking. He dis-

places his anger and blames others for his own personal

turmoil and hostility (Flanzer, 1982; Shields & Hanneke,

1983). Similar to other types of violent men (Toch,

1969), batterers have a tendency to suddenly interpret nor-

mal situations or events as threatening, challenging, or

overpowering. They can turn harmless discussions into vio-

lent struggles for control, power, and survival to satisfy

their own personal unmet needs or to feel powerful. It has

been strongly suggested in the research that wife beaters

may model this coping behavior of overt aggression from

their fathers (Bandura, 1977; Gelles, 1972; Rounsaville,

1978). However, they remain emotionally dependent men

whose greatest fear is that their women will leave them

(Davidson, 1978). They feel that they must control the

woman and her environment to prevent this (Dobash &

Dobash, 1979; Walker, 1979).

Dobash and Dobash (1979) engaged in extensive in-

terviews with battered women in England and Scotland.

Table 2-1
/ Profile of a Batterer

. Excessive jealousy of partner

Controls and isolates partner

Jekyll/Hyde personality

SExplosive temper to insignificant events

* Verbal and physical abuser

Learned predispostion toward violence

Uses projection

, Uses denial


Lacks assertiveness

Emotionally dependent

Believes in rigid and traditional sex-role attitudes

Dependent on alcohol and/or drugs


These women described how their batterers withheld affec-

tion and economic resources and used extreme verbal abuse

with the beatings. They also reported that the emotional

abuse is remembered by the wives long after the physical

wounds have healed. Others have reported that the violent

behaviors seem to escalate over time (Gayford, 1975;

Nichols, 1975; Scott, 1974) and that the violent encoun-

ters are not necessarily the result of prolonged arguments

(Flanzer, 1982). Many of these researchers point out that

the use of alcohol is prevalent and those incidents where

alcohol is present increases the risk of injury.

Walker (1979, 1980, 1983) described a cycle theory

of wife battering which entails three phases. Phase One is

the tension building phase in which the wife notices that

her husband is reacting negatively to minor frustrations

or is becoming edgy and irritable. She attempts to calm

him and placates him by becoming nurturing and compliant.

She tries to anticipate his every need and conceals her

own anger when he is unreasonable or illogical. She denies

her anger and tries to be a good wife. If she has been

through these phases before, she will deny her terror of

what will happen in Phase Two. She will try to continue to

delay the battering with the limited control which she act-

ually can use in this phase.

As the husband's anger increases and the tension es-

calates, her attempts to placate him become useless. The

man becomes even more possessive and demanding and tries


to humiliate her further. She withdraws from him and he

moves in with more control techniques.

Phase Two begins and the rageful acute battering

incident occurs. A wife beater will often report that he

meant to teach her a lesson not to severely hurt her. He

usually cannot or will not remember each detail of the

abuse. However, Walker (1979) discovered that the battered

woman remembers distinctly as though she were a mesmerized

outside observer. She may or may not fight back at this

point. During Phase Two, women have been assaulted while

in a sound sleep or simply walking in the front door.

There often seems to be no apparent immediate reason for

the battering (Walker, 1979, 1983).

During Phase Three, the wife's victimization be-

comes complete. The battering husband is fearful she will

leave him and he may be genuinely remorseful for his

assaultive behavior. He becomes loving and attentive to

the extreme. He feels he can control himself in the future

and he will not hurt her again. He may tearfully beg her

to forgive him.

With only a few words he can "trigger the woman's

addictive love, her guilt, her concern for him, her feel-

ing that she is responsible for his life and feelings"

(NiCarthy, 1982, p. 11). She feels it would be wrong to

not give him another chance. He once again becomes the won-

derful and charming man she originally married. She once

again believes in him and feels she should be a nurturing,

trusting and forgiving woman. She wishes and hopes that he


will not be violent with her in the future (Walker, 1979).

Walker (1979) suggested that a wife must experience sev-

eral of these cycles before she begins to understand that

she sells her self for a few moments of Phase Three


Recent research by Kelly and Loesch (1983) found

that the battered women they studied had varied opinions

as to whether they thought their husbands actually felt re-

morseful after an abusive episode. Roy (1978) cited case

studies where the husbands were not remorseful and denied

all violent acts even when the wives were severely


Social learning theory offers an explanation of why

battering can continue and escalate in frequency over

time. As Walker (1979) and Pagelow (1981a) have noted in

their research, there are usually no significant punish-

ments received by the batterer but there are often rein-

forcements. Many batterers experience feelings of power

and control following a battering episode. Their women

begin to appease them and try to remove all sources of ir-

ritation so it will not happen again (Davidson, 1978;

Walker, 1979). If a wife cannot take steps to retaliate or

to temporarily end the marital relationship following a

beating, the batterer is likely to continue his abusive be-

havior (Pagelow, 1981a). The physical act of battering be-

comes easier with each incident and the batterer organizes

rationalizations to resolve any cognitive dissonance he

may experience (Lemert, 1972; Pagelow, 1981a).


The punitive environment created by the violent mar-

riage leaves the victim with a sense of fatalism

(Lefcourt, 1981) which affects the battered woman's abil-

ity to take action or control over her life. The batterer

becomes the sole source of her self-esteem as he tries to

totally control her and the environment in which they live

(Roy, 1977).

In Walker's (1979) first book which reported her

innovative pilot research with battered women, she also

proposed a specific psychological pattern or profile for

abused wives which she labeled the Battered Woman Syn-

drome. Walker's more recent research (1983) with a sample

of 403 self-identified battered women supported the theory

that abused women suffer from situationally induced emo-

tional problems due to their abuse. They do not choose to

become battered because of some personality defect but

they develop behavior disturbances because of the


Other studies are beginning to be reported in the

literature regarding the personality profiles of battered

women. Hartik (1982) administered the Sixteen Personal-

ity Factor Questionnaire (16PF) and the Tennessee Self-

Concept Scale to 60 women to further define personality

differences between women who had been battered and women

who reported that they had never been battered. All sub-

jects were living in a conjugal type relationship. The sub-

jects were divided into two groups; 30 were battered women

and 30 were nonbattered women. All of the maladjustment


scales were significant at the .01 level. Battered wives

were found to be significantly more generally maladjusted

than the self-reported nonbattered wives.

Rosewater (1983) administered the Minnesota Multi-

phasic Personality Inventory (MMVPI) to 118 battered

women. A mean profile emerged for battered women which is

similar to the mean profile of chronic schizophrenic fe-

males. Battered women in this research were pessimistic

about their ability to cope, they experienced extreme an-

ger as guilt and turned this anger inward, they were de-

pressed, and they felt they were out of control of their

lives and were helpless to change it.

In a most recent study by Gellen, Hoffman, Jones,

and Stone (1984), the MMPI was administered to 10 bat-

tered women and to 10 nonbattered women. There was a high

significant difference at the .005 level between the two

groups. Battered women scored higher on those scales indi-

cating personality disorders. The researchers found the

profile to be similar to Seligman's (1975) learned help-

lessness construct. A small sample size limits this study,

but it is a beginning of research that has not previously

been attempted.

Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness has been intensively studied

in laboratory animals and in human subjects (Hiroto &

Seligman, 1975; Seligman, 1975). Helplessness is the psy-

chological state that may result when events are


experienced as uncontrollable by the subject. A battered

woman soon learns that no matter what response she makes,

she cannot control the batterings. She then begins to

believe that she cannot escape the environment.

Seligman's laboratory experiments have demonstrated that

when a subject learns that certain situations cannot be

controlled, the motivation to respond later when those

situations are repeated becomes greatly impaired.

Seligman found the key attitude to be the percep-

tion or the belief that we cannot control what happens to

us. Once the subject firmly believes this, an interference

in learning occurs, and the belief is generalized to simi-

lar situations later. Seligman found this interference in

learning to occur with animals even when the alternative

to escape was death.

Walker (1983) found that a battered woman learns

this painful lesson early. The random, often illogical at-

tacks from her husband reinforce her belief that no matter

what she does, she has little direct control over what hap-

pens to her. As she withdraws from his irritation and an-

ger, she becomes more passive and eventually resigns her-

self to her fate (Finkelhor, Gelles, Hotaling, &

Straus, 1983; Walker, 1979).

Helplessness experiments have disclosed three impor-

tant aftereffects: motivation to respond in the future is

decreased or extinguished, learning is retarded, and emo-

tional disturbances such as depression, fear, hostility,

and anxiety may result (Gatchel, Paulus, & Maples, 1975;


Hiroto, 1974; Seligman, 1975). The ability to associate

responding with relief is greatly impaired. The end result

is a neurotic, passive subject who believes there is

nothing that can be done to relieve the suffering (Ball &

Wyman, 1977-78; Seligman, 1975).

Seligman and his colleagues (Hiroto & Seligman,

1975) also discovered that helplessness can be unlearned

as it is learned but it takes many successful attempts by

the subject. Battered women like the laboratory animals in

Seligman's experiments may need to be shown successful ac-

tivities or alternatives several times before they believe

they can escape their violent life style (Walker, 1979).

Straus (1977-78) and Walker (1977-78) asserted that it is

extremely difficult for a battered woman to leave her hus-

band and home without outside help. Both researchers ex-

pressed that the battered woman needs expert help to over-

come the emotional and motivational deficits produced by

the abusive relationship. These women must learn to be-

lieve that what they do will affect what happens to them.

In contradiction to the belief that many spouse

abuse experts have concerning the generalized learned help-

lessness of the battered woman, Rounsaville (1978) found

that many battered women clients reported that they nei-

ther felt nor did they appear helpless in some other areas

of their lives. Walker's (1983) most recent research which

was completed over a period of three years with 403 bat-

tered women found that these abused victims may attribute

causality for successful experiences to external and


specific factors and failures to internal and global ones

according to Seligman's (1978) reformulation of his

learned helplessness theory. These various new results de-

serve further study.


Most case studies and literature concerning victims

of domestic violence mention the abused wife's low or nega-

tive self-concept. Considering how often it is mentioned

in the literature, it is remarkable how few studies have

been undertaken to assess this important personality vari-

able with battered women. Hartik (1982) is one of the few

studies, if not the only published study to date, which ac-

tually assessed the self-concept of battered wives with a

personality measurement instrument designed to ascertain

self-concept (The Tennessee Self-Concept Scale).

Most studies concerning self-concept define the

self-concept as a unique set of perceptions, ideas and at-

titudes that individuals believe about their "self." These

beliefs are built upon past experiences and interaction

with other people, especially those who are considered

significant others. Through interaction with others and

through daily experiences, people begin to believe that

they are either good or bad, competent or incompetent, and

worthy or unworthy (Gergen, 1971; Rappaport, 1977).

Research in this construct indicates that how peo-

ple perceive their self-concept will influence what ac-

tions they choose to take and what they expect from life

(Combs & Snygg, 1959; Fitts, 1972a, Gergen, 1971).

There are numerous studies that reveal the self-concept to

be a critical and central variable in human behavior and

one which can be modified (Fitts, 1970, 1972b; Thompson,

1972). Fitts and Hamner (1969) discovered that new be-

haviors could be taught to clients but those behaviors

were short-lived unless they also modified the person's

self-concept. People act in ways that confirm their

self-concept beliefs or how they see themselves (Jourard

& Landsman, 1980; Rogers, 1951).

It is generally believed that self-concept atti-

tudes form early in life during childhood and become rela-

tively stable through time (Combs & Syngg, 1959; Fitts,

1972a; Yawkey, 1980). However, it has been strongly sug-

gested in the literature that these perceptions can con-

tinue to be modified by subsequent experiences, signifi-

cant others, or traumatic events (Jourard & Landsman,

1980; Raimy, 1971; Roy, 1977; Symonds, 1975). Roehl

(1980) discussed the importance of feedback when one is

trying to alter one's self-concept. These issues or events

are particularly relevant to the battered woman's situa-


There are numerous self-concept theories. Self-

concept theories are based upon the idea that there is a

relationship between self-perceptions and behavior; the

self-concept is a monitoring process (LaBenne & Greene,

1969). Theorists in this area believe the self-concept to

be only one of many important personality determinants.


However, as early as 1945, Lecky described the self-

concept as the nucleus of the personality (Lecky, 1968).

The self-concept seems to play a major role in main-

taining an inner consistency and in providing a set of

expectancy patterns which may determine how experiences

are interpreted by the individual (Combs & Syngg, 1959,

Felker, 1974). This process in turn influences new

behaviors and events.

Considering the results of the many studies on the

self-concept, there seem to be major differences between a

person who has a high or positive self-concept and a per-

son who has a low or negative self-concept. Raimy (1971)

and Fitts (1970, 1972a) and Fitts and Hamner (1969)

discussed the importance of the self-concept in several

aspects of human behavior: learning, emotion, motivation,

perception, intelligence, self-actualization, and level of

assertion. Descriptions by the various mentioned resear-

chers are displayed in Table 2-2 for high self-concept and

low self-concept individuals.

Battered women have problems with hostility, anxi-

ety, depression, communication, problem solving and in de-

veloping effective coping mechanisms (Claerhont, Elder, &

Janis, 1982; Fleming, 1979; Pagelow, 1981a; Walker,

1979, 1983). Research has shown a positive relationship be-

tween a negative self-concept and hostility (Coopersmith,

1967; Gergen, 1971), a low self-concept and anxiety and

neurotic behavior (Claghorn, 1971; Fitts, 1972b), a nega-

tive self-concept and depression (Coopersmith, 1967;

Table 2-2
Characteristics of the Self-Concept

High Self-Concept

Feels capable

Sure of abilities

Seeks alternatives

Uses learning experiences


Creative thinker


Adaptable to new situations

Less rigid


Uses self-analysis

Low Self-Concept

Lacks confidence

Unsure of abilities


Cannot solve problems

Dependent on others


Values conformity

Less flexible

More authoritarian


Avoids self-analysis


Krakowski, 1971; Rosenberg, 1962), and a low self-

concept and inadequate interpersonal communications.

Hebert (1968) reported a relationship between per-

sonal coping style and self-concept. The more negative a

person's self-concept, the more difficult it was for that

person to cope with a problem. This individual will also

maintain a lower expectation of success. Researchers and

therapists in the field of spouse abuse repeatedly note

that women have been taught and expect to invest their

self-concept or self-worth in the achievements and expec-

tations of the men in their lives or in other external

sources of evaluation such as whether society and signifi-

cant others think they are a good wife and mother (Klein,

1976; Pagelow, 1981a; Walker, 1979). Ridington (1977-78)

found that the fear of losing this primary source of self-

concept, the husband and children, continues to keep a

woman trapped in an unsatisfying marriage.

In a review of the research on feminine develop-

ment, Baruch and Barnett (1979) found that the feminine

self-concept continues to remain low when compared to re-

search studies in other decades and that women continue to

be highly socialized by the sex-role stereotype that women

should be dependent, nurturing, and passive. Their examina-

tion of the research revealed that a high degree of this

type of socialization was negatively related to autonomy,

self-esteem, and adjustment. Bem (1975) found high self-

concepts among men and women who were androgynous or mascu-

line. In this study, feminine sex roles were associated


with lower or negative self-concepts. Case studies have re-

vealed that many battered women seem to have highly struc-

tured and rigid attitudes concerning traditional roles of

men and women; men should hold to masculine traits as tra-

ditionally defined and women should maintain the equiva-

lent in feminine characteristics (Fleming, 1979; Martin,

1976; Roy, 1977; Walker, 1979).

A battered woman's dilemma and perceptions are fur-

ther complicated by her husband's repeated acts of vio-

lence. The emotional and physical isolation that is en-

forced for the battered wife by the husband in these mar-

riages simply reinforces her feelings of helplessness,

hopelessness and a poor self-concept. A woman's self-

concept may be devastated regardless of its original condi-

tion by the constant critical and abusive attitude which

the battering husband maintains during Phase One and Phase

Two of the violence cycle (Roy, 1977: Walker, 1979).

Hartik (1982) engaged in an important study con-

cerning the personality characteristics and self-concept

of battered women versus non-battered women. She adminis-

tered the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF)

Form A and the Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS) to 30

women who had been battered and 30 women who reported they

had never been battered. The battered wives' group re-

vealed significant differences in personality and self-

concept characteristics. Battered wives in this study re-

ported lower self-concepts and were generally more


maladjusted and apprehensive. Apprehension on the 16PF is

considered to be one of the major factors in anxiety.

In summary, research has shown the self-concept to

be an important determinant of human behavior. Experimen-

tal studies and clinical studies in psychotherapy and reha-

bilitation have presented the necessity of intervening to

help clients develop a more positive self-concept if they

are to learn more efficient coping mechanisms and if they

are to change their lives and behaviors. It might be con-

cluded from the research cited that a significant degree

of self-love must be developed if one is to lead a men-

tally healthy, happy, and non-violent life style.

Locus of Control

The locus of control construct is believed by many

professionals in the field of psychology and battered

women to be an important linking variable between a

woman's individual behavior and the social system to which

she relates. Levenson (1973) feels that a certain amount

of personal means-end connection is necessary for survival

and coping in this world. Lefcourt (1966) postulated that

those people who feel they have no power to influence

their own experiences are not likely to take immediate ac-

tion to control other stressful events in their lives

since they may begin to believe after certain experiences

that what they personally do has little if any effect upon

what happens to them. Phares (1976) found that when peo-

ple feel in control of their situation, they are more


likely to use the available resources to deal with threat-

ening conditions. Those who feel that uncontrollable

forces determine the successful outcome of their behavior

are not likely to try and change the conditions.

Locus of control measures a generalized expectancy.

Rotter (1966) described the locus of control construct as


When a reinforcement is perceived by the
subject as following some action of his own
but not being entirely contingent upon his
action, then, in our culture, it is typi-
cally perceived as the result of luck,
chance, fate, as under the control of power-
ful others, or as unpredictable because of
the great complexity of the forces surround-
ing him. When the event is interpreted in
this way by an individual, we have labeled
this a belief in external control. If a
person perceives that the event is contin-
gent upon his own behavior or his own rela-
tively permanent characteristics, we have
termed this a belief in internal control.
(p. 1)

Rotter discovered that many clients participating

in counseling did not show a positive gain or change from

their new experiences. They were not able to learn from

these experiences unless they perceived that the outcomes

were a result of their own actions.

Research supports that a person's locus of control

view tends to influence an extensive variety of behaviors.

Those people who tend to perceive rewards as internally

controlled or as externally controlled are reported to be-

have differently (Phares, 1973). The reviews on locus of

control studies generally reveal that those people who

have an internal locus of control perception or those


people who believe that their actions influence what

happens to them have more positive, healthy behavior

patterns and personality characteristics (Lefcourt, 1981,

1982; Phares, 1976). However, extreme views of either

internal or external perceptions of control are often

associated with deviant personality types (Rotter,

Chance, & Phares, 1972).

The cultural socialization of women in the United

States into the feminine stereotype as discussed in a pre-

vious section does not help women to have a real sense

that they have much control over their own fate. Maccoby

and Jacklin (1974) surveyed several studies and found

that women are socialized by societal pressure to hold a

more external locus of control view than men. Several stu-

dies have established that both battered women and their

battering husbands feel that the wife cannot control what

happens to her. Interviews reveal that a battered woman

knows that her husband has periods of time when he feels

he must maintain control over her at all costs (Deaux &

Emswqiller, 1974; Midgley & Abrams, 1974).

It becomes impossible for her to make a decision on

her own because he interferes; he withdraws all her resour-

ces; the battering becomes unpredictable; and he encour-

ages her to become totally dependent upon him. A battered

wife begins to feel that she is a pawn to be manipulated

by her husband and by an uncaring world (Hendricks-

Matthews, 1982). Case histories are abundant with


statements of "whatever happens is done to me" (Davidson,


Research continues to demonstrate that women in our

society are not expected to have competent and independent

problem-solving behavior. One study which engaged in a ma-

jor content analysis of children's television programs sug-

gested that autonomy, problem-solving, and appropriate

help-seeking were not prevalent behaviors for the female

characters (McArthur & Eizen, 1976).

Considering the previous information on learned

helplessness, the battered woman's degree of learned help-

lessness and her sense of who controls what happens to her

could certainly affect her behavior in the areas of prob-

lem-solving. Lefcourt (1981) reviewed several locus of

control studies and found that a severely punishing envi-

ronment creates a sense of fatalism and the individual may

revert to childlike or other regressive behaviors. It is a

well documented fact that when prisoners of war such as

those in Nazi concentration camps developed a strong sense

of personal helplessness and a total lack of control view,

apathy, withdrawal and sometimes death followed. It is gen-

erally hypothesized by researchers in this field and in

the field of victimology that if an individual spends a

considerable amount of time in a no-control or unpredict-

able environment, that person can develop a generalized be-

lief in external control that could extend beyond the spe-

cific situation (Lefcourt, 1982; Phares, 1976).


The concept of an internal-external locus of con-

trol construct has its foundation in social learning the-

ory. This theory is called social because it focuses upon

human beings interacting with each other in order to

achieve their primary goals. The learning aspect of this

theory is its analysis of how people modify their behavior

in order to reach their goals (Rotter, Chance, & Phares,

1972). Social learning theory encompasses two major be-

liefs in American psychology: stimulus-response theories

and cognitive or field theories. Many professionals re-

searching issues with battered women have a background in

social learning theory (Pagelow, 1984; Roy, 1977;

Walker, 1979). The two basic principles important to

social learning theory, the expectancy construct and the

meeting of needs or attainment of goals, are encompassed

in Rotter's formula (Rotter, Chance, & Phares, 1972):

Behavior potential is a function of both
expectancy and reinforcement value. (p. 16)

The probability of a behavior occurring depends

upon the desirability of the goal or reinforcement sought

by the behavior plus the individual's expectation that the

reinforcement will be realized (Rotter, 1966). Social

learning theory focuses upon reinforcements which meet per-

sonal needs such as striving for recognition, love, social

acceptance and dominance (Rotter, Chance, & Phares,

1972). Certain behaviors of an individual will be repeated

because that individual has learned previously that those

behaviors lead to rewards in the above areas.


Changes in expectancies are brought about by intro-

ducing new experiences that change previous patterns of

success and failure (Phares, 1976). Individuals are af-

fected by their own perception of whether the reinforce-

ment is controlled by them or by others; thus, a causal re-

lationship develops between their own behavior and the re-

ward. The social learning theory of personality empha-

sizes that behavior is learned through the experiences of

a person having their biological and psychological needs

met by other people.

Bandura (1977) hypothesized that psychological

functioning is a continuous reciprocal process between per-

sonality, behavior, and environmental determinants. Social

learning theory proposes that there are several important

determinants of behavior: how a person values the goal or

reinforcement, the strength of their expectancy for realiz-

ing this goal, the psychological situation, and the per-

sonal meaning of a particular situation.

Field theories hypothesize that there are also cues

in the person's environment that influence their behavior.

Each situation holds cues to which the individual responds

with expectancies for the reinforcement of certain behav-

iors. The meaning which these cues have are based upon the

person's past learning history (Rotter, Chance, &

Phares, 1972)

Individuals categorize situations according to

their past experiences with similar problems and according

to the likelihood of reinforcement. This process of


categorizing helps the individual to develop various

generalized expectancies related to different situations

(Phares, 1976). The generalized expectancy of internal or

external control of reinforcement, the belief that what

happens to a person is dependent upon the person's behav-

ior or upon outside forces, is an important example of

these expectancies (Rotter, 1966).

In addition to these influences upon a person's be-

havior, the belief in internal or external locus of con-

trol may be different in certain situations. Phares

(1976) found that even those individuals who usually had a

general expectancy of control over their lives could feel

in certain situations that they were not able to exercise

much control. Several studies have been reported involving

chance and skill situations with subjects who had internal

and external views of control (Fazio & Hendricks, 1970;

James & Rotter, 1958; Phares, 1962; Rotter, Liverant &

Crowne, 1961).

Results varied depending upon the conditions and

the subject's locus of control perception. An important re-

sult of these experiments which applies to spouse abuse

and the battered woman's dilemma is that when the subjects

perceived that the task was controlled by the experi-

menter, by chance, or by random conditions, past experi-

ences were relied upon less. Joe (1972) and Lefcourt

(1972) found that years of living under conditions where

most reinforcement was in the hands of powerful others re-

sulted in an external locus of control.


Several studies have assessed the attributes which

internal locus of control individuals have that external

believers do not have. It has been suggested by several re-

searchers that internals deal more competently with life

because they have these qualities readily available for

their use. Knoop (1981) reviewed the locus of control re-

search and found several correlates in the studies which

showed a strong association with internal perceptions of

control: better education, higher income, more often male

than female, higher status, and a more positive self-

concept (Gordon, 1977; Lied & Pritchard, 1976). Bledsoe

(1979) found a correlation between internal perceptions of

control and greater willpower, more imagination, more con-

fidence and greater ego strength.

Rotter (1966) hypothesized that people who have

an internal control perception are better adjusted than

those with an external view. He does suggest a curvi

linear relationship between adjustment and the internal-

external dimension. Extremes of either view may have more

personality maladjustment. Certain studies have corrobo-

rated this hypothesis (Cromwell, Rosenthal, Shakow &

Zahn, 1961; Duke & Mullens, 1972; Shybut, 1968) whereas

others have found the opposite or an inconsistent relation-

ship between internality and adjustment (Harrow &

Ferrante, 1969).

Emphasis in this present review of the literature

is placed on those studies and findings which are perti-

nent to the problems of the battered woman. Levenson


(1974) found in her review of the research that external

locus of control perceptions were associated in the stu-

dies with high anxiety (3oe, 1971; Lefcourt, 1972), with

general fearfulness (Palmer, 1972), and with feelings of

insecurity (Himle & Barcy, 1975).

In social learning theory anxiety is viewed as a

group of responses which are indicative of a high expec-

tancy for punishment or a low expectancy for success in a

valued need area (Phares, 1976). Studies have reported

that external locus of control individuals have chronic

and debilitating anxiety and internals have facilitative

anxiety (Butterfield, 1964; Feather, 1967; Kendall,

Finch, & Montgomery, 1976; Lefcourt, 1981). Internals can

be anxious but they are more willing to work on their prob-

lems and personality inadequacies (Phares, 1976). Thera-

pists have found that extreme externals often learn to de-

value important goals as a way of reducing their anxiety

over their inability to reach these rewards.

According to social learning theory, there should

be a clear relationship between externality and depres-

sion. Learning that reinforcement is constantly indepen-

dent of any voluntary response should result in learned

helplessness and depression (Miller & Seligman, 1973;

Phares, 1976; Williams & Nickels, 1969). Hiroto (1974)

found support for Seligman's theory when he reported a re-

lationship between learned helplessness and an external

locus of control view.


Abramowitz (1969) found that externals had more

feelings of anger and depression than internals. The rela-

tionship was small but statistically significant.

Lefcourt (1982) reported other studies in which there was

a small but significant correlation between depression and

external perceptions as expressed on the Levenson I, P,

and C Scales. Internals as measured by the I scale (inter-

nal locus of control) of this instrument showed a signifi-

cant and negative relationship to depression and anxiety.

Seeman and Evans (1962) and Seeman (1963) were

among the first to conduct studies relating locus of con-

trol to cognitive activity. Hospital patients were tested

on their knowledge of information about their disease.

Those who held internal views of control had more informa-

tion and retained this information better than externals.

Other studies in this area of cognitive activity found

that internals engage in more information-seeking behav-

ior, attend to relevant cues (Crandall & Lacey, 1972;

Lefcourt & Wine, 1969), and use this information to over-

come their own inadequacies or to solve a problem more

often than externals (Ducette & Wolk, 1973; Williams &

Stack, 1972). Wolk and Ducette (1971) also reported that

internals were superior to externals in finding errors and

in incidental learning.

In Seeman's (1963) second study, he found that in-

ternals are superior to externals in recall of that infor-

mation which is most pertinent to the attainment of per-

sonal goals. Reformatory inmates in an institutional

setting were given three types of information which varied

in its usefulness. Six weeks later they were tested for

retention of that information. Those subjects scoring high

in internality learned the parole-related materials signif-

icantly better than those subjects scoring low in internal-

ity. Other studies have shown that internal locus of con-

trol subjects are more sensitive than externals to the op-

portunity for reinforcement (Lefcourt, 1972).

Other pertinent variables for battered women which

seem to be associated with an internal locus of control

view have been reported in the literature: delay of grati-

fication (Shipe, 1971; Strickland, 1973; Walls & Smith,

1970), task persistence (Altschuler & Kassinove, 1975;

Dweck & Reppucci, 1973), and less susceptibility to

other's influence or control (Phares, 1976).

It is generally believed that the internal-external

locus of control view of an individual will remain rela-

tively stable over time. Therefore, short term treatment

may not effect significant changes. Several studies have

suggested that the treatment period be of at least seven

weeks duration (Dua, 1970; Harrow & Ferrante, 1969) or

that a residential treatment approach (Eitzen, 1974) may

facilitate significant changes in an individual's locus of

control view.

The locus of control construct is constantly being

reviewed and studied. Lefcourt's (1982) recent book sur-

veying various new instruments and research studies on

this personality characteristic reports much evidence to


support Rotter's postulates that not only does control ex-

pectancy influence the immediate task but it can affect

the degree to which an individual assimilates and learns

from their experiences (Phares, 1976). It has also been

suggested that the locus of control construct is not a

single entity. Success and failure attributions may be dif-

ferent in different situations for internals and for exter-

nals (Lefcourt, 1981).

Phares (1976) expressed the need for more research

with minorities whose access to power is limited and who

seem to hold more external views of control for realistic

reasons (Gatz, Tyler, & Pargament, 1978). Gruen and

Ottinger (1969) found that middle-class children are

greater in internality than those of the lower socio-

economic classes. Levenson (Lefcourt, 1982) believes

that the locus of control construct is multidimensional

and that there are two types of external control

orientations. She sees a problem with Rotter's locus of

control assessment instrument and with others which

combine the expectancies of fate, chance and powerful

others under one external control category.

In 1976 Phares reviewed the research and summar-

ized the attributes of those individuals who have an exter-

nal locus of control view by stating that they seem to

have very little information that they can use in achiev-

ing their goals in relevant areas of vocational, social,

sexual or educational interests. They make almost no at-

tempt to find this information and they do not seem to


care much one way or the other. They pay little attention

to cues in their environment that would help them to cope

more effectively with their problems and the world.

Phares hypothesized that external beliefs may emerge

because of an individual's need for protection from fur-

ther failure or other personal inadequacies.

Related studies

In Paul and Fischer's (1980) survey of the litera-

ture, they found support for a correlation between an in-

ternal locus of control view and a positive self-concept.

In this study, high self-concept subjects scored higher

than low self-concept subjects on internality and inti-

macy. Ryckman and Sherman (1973) reported that women and

men with high self-concept scores tend to be internally

oriented. These variables did not appear to be affected by

sex. Another study obtained similar results with all male

subjects (Fish & Karabenick, 1971).

Shelter Counseling Program

In the past society has largely ignored the prob-

lems of battered women and has not provided support sys-

tems for them. Shelter programs are now trying to provide

some form of confidential physical safety, temporary econo-

mic help and food, emotional support, logical information,

and a sense of community. All of these factors are en-

hanced when the shelter can also provide appropriate coun-

seling interventions (Walker, 1983).


A woman comes into the shelter facility terrified

of her mate and of her future. She has had to leave her

home and personal belongings. She may also have had to

leave their children with her abusive husband until she

can obtain legal help. Since a woman is generally identi-

fied by her relationship to others, the wife often loses

her primary identity when she loses her marriage and part-

ner (Klein, 1976; Ridington, 1977-78).

Battered women need to learn that they can affect

their environment and keep themselves and their children

safe from violence. They need to learn that they deserve

to be treated with consideration. They must learn new

methods of communication and that their opinions and needs

will be respected. Walker (1977-78) found direct communi-

cation to be absent between partners in battering mar-

riages and manipulation is engaged in behind the scene.

Living in an atmosphere of terror and unpredict-

able, illogical humiliation and physical beatings can

create an intense state of confusion for a battered wife.

She experiences the world as hostile and may have recur-

ring violent nightmares or fantasies (Hilberman &

Munson, 1977-78). Her self-confidence becomes undermined

and she usually develops psychosomatic complaints from the

tension (Walker, 1979). Her psychological reactions may en-

compass depression, anxiety, suspiciousness, learned help-

lessness, guardedness, extreme compliancy and fearfulness;

many of which have saved her from being beaten for short

periods of time in the past. Learned helplessness blinds


her to possible options. She denies reality and wishes and


The primary concern when a battered woman enters

into a counseling relationship is to help her regain con-

trol of her life (Fleming, 1979; NiCarthy, 1982). Con-

trol is a necessary factor for the development of identity

with these women (Ball & Wyman, 1977-78). Therapy tech-

niques with battered women must be action oriented or prob-

lem solving therapy since these clients have a problem-

solving deficit (Claerhont, Elder, & Janis, 1982). When

a client is genuinely afraid for her life and has no shel-

ter or food, self-actualization therapies are not appropri-

ate at that time (Maslow, 1954).

Dua (1970) found that action program procedures

were significantly more effective than reeducation pro-

grams in producing change in subjects' locus of control

views. Smith (1970) found that those clients entering ther-

apy with an acute life crisis decreased their externality

when they learned more effective coping techniques. Other

researchers in the field of spouse abuse have found the

first step to alleviating the battering is to help the

woman raise her self-concept (Roy, 1977).

During the first few days of a woman's stay at the

shelter, safety, relative freedom from fear, and others'

support are important to her. Shelter residents usually ex-

press a sense of relief and peacefulness (Finkelhor,

Gelles, Hotaling, & Straus, 1983). They begin to learn

to value friendship and understanding from people in the


same situation; they learn they are no longer isolated.

This initial introductory experience that others are con-

cerned about her welfare helps to rebuild the battered

woman's self-concept. Group therapy teaching assertiveness

techniques is especially necessary to this process

(Walker, 1979) if the woman intends to stay away from her

marital home. Unfortunately, assertive attempts on the

victim's part in a violent marriage usually lead to

further violence from the abuser if she remains with him.

Counseling must include concrete steps to short-

term goals. Shelter counselors perform as information and

referral experts and vocational exploration is a valid

technique at this point since the woman will have to sup-

port herself and her family if she is not able to convince

her husband to stop beating her (Fleming, 1979;

NiCarthy, 1982).

Shelter counseling programs can provide some of the

basic conditions necessary for changes in the self-concept

and in the other problem areas previously mentioned.

Raimy (1971) stated four of these conditions: (a) a

desire to change must be present, (b) the situation must

arise in which the client can be free to explore and admit

inadequacies safely, (c) the client must have time to

organize details and facts honestly about the self, and

(d) the client must have the opportunity to test new con-

ceptions. Rappaport (1977) states that there were two

necessary elements in the studies he reviewed for the suc-

cessful treatment of learned helplessness. The subject


learned that it could escape and a system was provided in

which escape was possible.

Shelter counselors must be willing to interfere

with society and act as the battered woman's advocate with

society and its system and institutions. Most of the pre-

viously cited literature in the spouse abuse field exhi-

bits by examples that our culture is often indifferent to

victims especially when they are part of a marital pair.

Bem and Bem (Walker, 1979) arranged an experiment to

test whether strangers would assist a woman who was being

physically and verbally abused by a man outside on a side-

walk. Passersby at different times saw two men in an argu-

ment, two women in an argument, and a man and a woman in

an argument. The severity of the verbal and physical activ-

ity was the same in all three instances. Strangers inter-

vened with the first two dyads far more often than when

the man and woman were arguing. The observers stated that

they felt they had no right to interfere in a marital dis-

pute. The courts and other social service agencies often

react similarly regardless of the amount of the abuse

(Gelles, 1979; Pagelow, 1981a; Straus, 1977-78).

Emphasis is now being placed on shelters to develop

successful rehabilitation programs that interrupt the feel-

ings of helplessness and depression and anxiety; programs

which help these women to develop higher levels of self-

concept and feelings of competence and a more internal

locus of control (Finkelhor, Gelles, Hotaling, &

Straus, 1983; Pagelow, 1984; Walker, 1979).


As reviewed in the literature, battered women de-

velop special problems if they remain for any length of

time in a physically abusive relationship. The results of

extensive physical abuse from a family member is a rela-

tively new research topic, yet it appears to have devasta-

ting and often lasting effects upon the psychological func-

tioning and personality characteristics of the abused.

Self-concept and locus of control constructs can be

crucial to the personality rehabilitation of a battered

woman. She must learn to choose not to remain in a violent

situation. Research has demonstrated that having a

positive or negative self-concept and an internal or

external perception of locus of control has an affect on

an individual's behavior. When shelter counseling staff

are provided with baseline data concerning the current

functioning of their clients, they are in a better

position to intervene and to provide facilitation for the

development of more positive and effective personality



The purpose of this study was to investigate and

identify by case study and other personality measurement

instruments the current psychological functioning, the

self-concept, and the locus of control constructs of bat-

tered women in a spouse abuse shelter and to examine any

relationships that these variables might have to each

other within this sample. A further purpose was to develop

data that could provide baseline information for future re-

search in this area. The procedures that were followed to

obtain this information are described in this chapter.

Research Design

The case study format was chosen for this investi-

gation because of the study's exploratory nature and the

various problems encountered in the past by other resear-

chers in acquiring subjects who would reveal intimate in-

formation concerning their abusive marriages (Pagelow,

1981a; Walker, 1983). Six interviews were used to obtain

the case study narratives. A well researched structured

interview questionnaire designed specifically for research

with battered women was utilized during this process. This

method allowed a woman to develop rapport and trust with



the interviewer. She was then be able to answer these

intensely personal questions without as much shame and

embarrassment as has been encountered in the use of other

methods. The interview information is supported with objec-

tive data from three personality assessment instruments.

There are few "in-house" studies of battered women

in shelter and little is known about their psychological

characteristics at the time they enter shelter. Neale and

Liebert (1973) commented on the exploratory nature of the

case study method and pointed out its value when obtaining

detailed information from individuals about their behav-

ior. It is particularly useful when treatment cannot be

withheld from a control group as in an experimental design

or when it is not possible to find an equivalent control


Kazdin (1981) suggested that certain steps be tak-

en to reduce threats to the validity of such a study. This

present study included those suggestions which are appro-

priate. The following factors were added to the tradi-

tional case study method: (a) a number of cases are

reported instead of only one case, (b) other objective

data are included such as a personality inventory (MMPI),

a self-concept measure (TSCS), and a locus of control

measure (ANS-IE), and (c) a lengthy history was gathered

to determine a subject's past experiences with an abusive


Fact gathering taped interviews with subjects fol-

lowed a structured interview questionnaire which was


developed by Pagelow (1981b) and utilized in her most

recent work with battered women. Goldman (1976) called

for research that could be replicated and practically

meaningful. This study provides detailed interview data

plus additional information which has not heretofor been

gathered with clients in a shelter program. It is hoped

that the results of this study will produce information

which can be used in the future to develop more successful

counseling interventions and techniques for battered women

in shelters.

Research Questions

This investigation answered the following research


1. What is the current psychological functioning of bat-

tered women residing in a spouse abuse shelter?

2. What was the nature, extent, and frequency of the

spouse abuse that these battered women experienced?

3. What are the self-concept constructs of these battered

women residents?

4. What are the locus of control constructs of these bat-

tered women residents?

5. Is there a relationship between the battered women's

psychological functioning profile as assessed by the MMPI

and their self-concept construct?

6. Is there a relationship between the battered women's

psychological functioning profile as assessed by the IMMPI

and their locus of control construct?


7. Is there a relationship between the self-concept and

the locus of control constructs of these battered women?

Population and Sample

The subjects were 16 battered women residing in a

spouse abuse shelter in a rural and suburban northeast sec-

tion of Florida. These women were seeking safety in a shel-

ter for the first time from a currently physically abusive

home with a conjugal partner. Most residents of this

spouse abuse shelter live in those rural counties which

border on the shelter's location.

Subjects' ages ranged from 20 to 50 years old. Sub-

jects were all Caucasian. In this area most of the bat-

tered women who use the shelter are white. Most Florida

shelters report that each resident has two to three chil-

dren. The subjects had a variety of religious beliefs.

These subjects came from families that live in the lower

to middle socio-economic classes. Most were legally mar-

ried to their abuser.

This shelter has an initial screening process or in-

take which requires that each client be presently battered

or escaping from another battering incident before she is

eligible for admission to the shelter. The intake form al-

so defines whether this woman has sought shelter previous-

ly at any other shelter or at this shelter. All subjects

were in shelter for the first time.



Three personality measurement instruments were used

to enrich the structured interview case study format and

to gather additional information. A 12-page structured

questionnaire by Mildred Pagelow (1981b) was completed by

each subject and used as a guide for the subsequent inter-

views. The other personality instruments administered were

the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory which was

first published in 1943, the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale

which was published in 1965 by William H. Fitts, and the

Adult Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External Scale which

was developed by S. Nowicki and M.P. Duke in 1974.

The structured interview questionnaire (Appendix A)

used in this study was devised by Pagelow (1981b) for her

research with 450 battered women. The purpose of the inter-

views in this present study was to (a) to obtain a wide

range of demographic information, (b) to obtain detailed

information about the women's perceptions of what happened

to them and why it happened, and (c) to gather information

about how they presently view their own psychological

functioning. At the time Pagelow completed her study it

was believed that this instrument was one which could be

used by other researchers who were beginning to explore

these problems.

The questionnaire was pretested and revised twice

by Pagelow before the final form was adopted. The 12-page

questionnaire is divided into four parts: 1) personal

data, 2) data regarding spouse, 3) nature of injuries, and


4) institutional response (Pagelow, 1981b, p. 234). A dif-

ferent color of paper is used for every four pages to make

the test seem shorter than it actually is.

Because this crime is a particularly private one,

interacting personally with these residents on an indivi-

dual basis can provide the researcher with more understand-

ing of each victim's feelings, her experiences, and her

perceptions of the incidents and the circumstances of her

violent marriage.

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

(MMPI) is a widely used and well-researched inventory for

the assessment of personality characteristics that affect

personal and social adjustment (Hathaway & McKinley,

1943). It contains 566 statements to which the subject an-

swers "True," "False," or "Cannot Say." Raw scores are con-

verted to standard scores and a profile is developed. A

score greater than 2 standard deviations above the mean is

considered to be a significant indicator of a pathological

condition. Ten clinical scales and four validating scales

can be developed from the subject's answers. There are

also supplemental scales.

Adequate reliability and validity information by

several researchers has been provided in the Manual in

table form. The authors (Hathaway & McKinley, 1940) found

test-retest reliability for six of the clinical scales to

be between .57 and .83 with 100 normal subjects when tes-

ted over intervals of three days to one year. Hathaway

and McKinley tested the validity of the scales by


comparing high scores on the scales to the corresponding

final clinical diagnosis. High scores predicted positively

in more than 60% of the new psychiatric admissions.

Norm groups have been developed for normal adoles-

cents, adults, college students, and elderly adults. The

sixth grade reading level is appropriate for this popula-

tion. The inventory requires 45 to 90 minutes to complete

and requires minimal supervision. The NIMPI has been used

by several researchers in exploring the battered woman syn-

drome and in attempting to define those characteristics

which battered women manifest (Gellen et al., 1984;

Rosewater, 1983).

The Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (TSCS) by Fitts

(1965) is a well standardized, multidimensional descrip-

tion of a person's self-concept. The Scale is composed of

100 self-descriptive statements evenly balanced between

positive and negative statements. There are five response

categories for each statement ranging from Completely True

(5) to Completely False (1). Scores are obtained in five

areas: social, moral-ethical, family, physical, and per-

sonal. The instrument yields an overall self-esteem score

and quantitative indices of various areas of the self (con-

sistency, defensiveness, and a degree of self-differentia-

tion). Ten items are included from the MMPI lie scale.

The instrument is easy to read and requires about 20 min-

utes to self-administer.

Fitts and fellow researchers have engaged in exten-

sive studies on this scale. Most test-retest reliability


coefficients range from .70 through .80 (Fitts, 1965).

Content validity is assured by the classification system

used for Raw Scores and Column Scores. Between groups va-

lidity has been substantiated (Fitts, 1965).

Wylie (1974) in her review of self-concept testing

instruments found the TSCS to have discriminant validity.

The TSCS seems applicable for subjects with well adjusted

personalities and for those with serious personality prob-

lems. In this study the Clinical and Research Form will be

used; it provides a better understanding of the personal-

ity dynamics than the Counseling Form (Fitts, 1965).

Hartik (1982) found that battered wives reported

lower self-concept and more difficulty with basic identity

than nonbattered wives when tested with the TSCS. They

also seemed to have more difficulty maintaining a minimal

self-esteem level than nonbattered wives.

A third assessment scale, the Adult Nowicki-

Strickland Internal-External Control Scale (ANS-IE), was

administered to each subject (Nowicki & Duke, 1974).

Phares (1976) in his review of locus of control

measurements noted that most of the instruments which were

based on Rotter's locus of control test and theory had

little construct validity. An exception to this weakness

was the ANS-IE.

The ANS-IE is a 40 yes-no item test which is suit-

able for adults. It was developed in response to the criti-

cisms of Rotter's I-E Scale. Several studies found evi-

dence that the I-E Scale was contaminated by the effects


of social desirability. The Rotter is difficult to read

and may also confound personal, social, political, and

ideological causation.

Nowicki and Duke (1974) conducted several studies

with more than 766 subjects to test whether they had

devised scales which maintained Rotter's scale's

strengths while overcoming its weaknesses. The ANS-IE

was not related to social desirability as measured by the

Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale when this was

investigated with two samples of college students (n=48,

r=.10; n=68, r=.06) (Nowicki & Duke, 1974).

Repeated split-half reliabilities ranging from .74

to .86 were found based on several studies. Nowicki and

Duke (1974) reported that since the items are not arranged

in order of difficulty, this is an underestimation of the

true internal consistency reliability. Test-retest reli-

abilities for college students over a six weeks period

were .83 (Nowicki & Duke, 1974) and .65 for a seven week

period (Chandler & Patterson, 1976). Mink (1976) found a

similar reliability coefficient of .56 for community

college students over a one year period.

Several researchers found a significant positive

correlation concerning construct validity between the

ANS-IE and the well-researched Rotter I-E Scale (Nemec,

1973; Nowicki, 1980; Nowicki & Duke, 1974; Remainis,

1974). Nowicki (1972) found that externals on the ANS-IE

had a positive correlation to higher Neuroticism scores on

the Eysenck's Scale and to Anxiety scores as measured by


the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale. Both the Rotter scale

and the ANS-IE have shown a positive correlation between

the greater the psychological maladjustment, the more ex-

ternal the subject's orientation.

The reading level for this paper and pencil instru-

ment is fifth grade which makes it appropriate for this

population. Scores range from 0-40 with higher scores ref-

lecting greater externality. Norms are available for a

wide variety of groups (Nowicki, 1980). This instrument

was compared to several other locus of control instruments

and was chosen because it seemed reliable, valid, and was

easier to read than the others reviewed.


Each battered woman resident who was in the shelter

for the first time and had stayed four days was asked on

the fourth day if she would like to participate in the

study. She was reminded that participation was on a volun-

teer basis and she would not be penalized in any way for

not participating. Testing on the fourth day is recommen-

ded by shelter workers as an appropriate time period to al-

low a woman to settle in and to recover from the immedi-

ate crisis (Pagelow, 1981a; Walker, 1983). Each partici-

pant was given a consent form by the researcher which sta-

ted the purpose of the study and that they had the right

to withdraw from the study at any time. Each subject was

verbally assured of confidentiality. It was important that


all subjects could freely ask questions at any time before

or after they completed the interviews.

The initial interview and testing was divided into

two 2 hour periods: one period on the first day and one

period on the next day. This initial interview and testing

process was lengthy and had to be divided. Those women who

were in pain and fearful could not attend to cognitive

tasks for long periods of time. These two sessions began

with a brief instruction statement from the instruments of

what was expected.

During the initial meeting the structured interview

questionnaire was administered first and the TSCS second;

rapport was developed during this time between the resear-

cher and the subject. The researcher also assessed the

reading ability of the subject during this initial inter-

view. The structured questionnaire was administered verbal-

ly to the subject. All subjects were able to read the


The MVlPI and ANS-IE were administered during the

second interview. Battered wives are constantly reminded

by their husbands that they are crazy (Walker, 1979). Re-

questing that the resident take a personality instrument

like the iMPI upon first meeting could be fear inducing

until the subject knows more about the interviewer and

trust and rapport is developed.

When the resident had problems reading the measure-

ment instruments due to injuries, the interviewer read the

questions to her. Subjects were assured that their


inventory scores were confidential and that if they wished

to they could see them at a later date.

Additional interviews covering the four areas of

the questionnaire were held with each subject. At least 30

to 90 minutes were concentrated in each area of the

structured questionnaire to obtain detailed information

from the subject concerning (a) personal data, (b) data

regarding her spouse, (c) the nature of her injuries and

how they happened, and (d) her feelings about others'

responses or community responses to her situation. The

questionnaire served as a guide for detailed information

in these areas. All interviews were completed by the same

researcher to maintain uniformity and to develop rapport

and trust with each subject.

Analysis of Data

The data were analyzed for the research questions

in the following manner:

1) Individual case studies were reported in narra-

tive form.

2) Raw scores, T scores, and a profile were

computed for each subject's responses to the MMPI. T

scores were displayed in table form. These scale scores

and the resulting profile were examined for scale

elevations, for those scales which were elevated together

in the profile, and for certain indices such as anxiety

states, depressed mood, or phobias, which were present.


3) The nature, extent and frequency of spouse abuse

experienced by the subjects was reported.

4) Individual and mean T-scores on the TSCS were

computed with special attention to the overall P score.

These were displayed in table form.

5) A locus of control score for each subject was

compiled from the answers on the ANS-IE and was displayed

in table form. The ANS-IE is scored by counting the exter-

nal answers.

6) A Pearson's r was computed to define signifi-

cant relationships between the MVIPI individual scales and

the overall P score on the TSCS for each client.

7) A Pearson's r was computed to define signifi-

cant relationships between the MVIPI individual scales and

the locus of control score for each client.

8) A Pearson's r was computed to define the pres-

ence of a significant relationship between the overall

TSCS score and the locus of control score for each


9) Individual demographic data from the structured

interviews was drawn up in table form.

When appropriate t-tests were used to test the

significance of the relationships at the .05 level.


There are various discussions in the psychological

research community regarding when it is appropriate to use

the case study format. Considering the newness of research


with battered women and the problems intrinsic to wife

beating in our society, the case study seems to be an ap-

propriate choice. In the past victims of spouse abuse did

not willingly divulge intimate information concerning phys-

ical abuse from their marital partner. They were ashamed

or embarrassed or often threatened by their husbands if

they told anyone. It is easier to develop the necessary

rapport needed to elicit this information if the case

study method and multiple interviews are used.

There are several limitations in this study. It is

not possible to withhold treatment from a control group of

women who want to enter a shelter. It is therefore not pos-

sible to compare other groups of battered women to these

women who are seeking help to stop the beatings and who

choose to come into a shelter. The characteristics of

women who come into a shelter and ask for help in this man-

ner may be quite different than those battered women who

do not ask for help or those who solve their problems in

other ways, i.e., murder, suicide, leaving the first time

it happens.

Those women who agreed to volunteer for this study

may also be different than other shelter residents and

other battered women. However, no women residents who

stayed four days refused to participate in this study.

Findings also cannot be generalized to all battered women

in the community for this is an unknown population at this



Any correlations between variables should not have

a causal interpretation. Another limitation often men-

tioned when self-report data are gathered concerns the

reliability of such data. Researchers in spouse abuse have

become well aware that the women remember minute details

of their beatings and what their abuser said while he was

battering her. However, it should be noted that the male

batterer does not always have such vivid recall. The bat-

tered woman also remembers how she felt during the epi-

sodes (Pagelow, 1981a; Walker, 1979). Therefore her self-

reported information should be considered to be fairly


There were checks for reliability of the informa-

tion to compensate for the limitations. Shelters screen

their residents prior to admission. All of the subjects

should have actually experienced physical assault and bat-

tery. Cross checks were also available concerning the demo-

graphic information by comparing the initial shelter in-

take form information to the structured interview infor-

mation. Older children were willing to verify their

mothers' perceptions of what happened to them.


Results of the Study

The results of this study are organized as follows:

the individual case study of each subject interviewed is

presented first. That individual's MMPI, TSCS, and

ANS-IE scores and results are discussed after the case

narrative. A summary of the data for each subject is then

presented. A discussion of the results follows this infor-


When the study began, the first 16 women residents

to stay for a period of four days in this spouse abuse

shelter were asked if they would participate. All 16

agreed. Ten other women were residents during that time

but they left before they had been in shelter for four

days. Names and minor facts have been changed in each case

study narrative to protect the identity of the subjects.

There were several common themes which were present

in all of the subjects' descriptions of their relation-

ships with their batterers. These commonalities are ad-

dressed following the Individual and Group Data in the Dis-

cussion of Results section.

Individual Case Studies

Case 1. Anne is a likeable, overweight 38 year

old married woman. She was the youngest of two children

born to her parents only marriage. Her father died when

Anne was in her late twenties. There was constant psycho-

logical abuse and arguing between her parents. This never

erupted into physical violence. Both parents would occa-

sionally spank the children with their hand or a paddle.

Her sister often verbally bullied her and Anne describes

her childhood home as troubled and argumentive. She cur-

rently gets along well with her mother and her mother

seems supportive.

Anne graduated from high school and began a nursing

course at the local community college. She worked part

time as a beautician to support her academic endeavors.

She secured a job as a bank teller and did not finish the

nursing course. She did not actively date during this time

and lived at home with her mother until she married at age


Anne's childhood religion was Protestant and her

parents occasionally took the children to Sunday School.

She currently regards herself as somewhat religious but

does not attend church services. She has consulted clergy

concerning her marital problems.

Anne is in excellent health but is concerned about

her weight. She obtained a prescription for tranquilizers

when her husband began abusing her the last two years of

their marriage. She considers herself a light social


drinker and has never used illegal drugs. She stopped tak-

ing tranquilizers recently when she discovered that she

was pregnant with their second child.

Anne's husband is a 50 year old unemployed electri-

cian who is very overweight for his height. He has been

married eight times. Anne believes that his other mar-

riages ended in divorce because of his drinking and be-

cause he was physically abusive to these wives. He has

three children by a former marriage; however, Anne has

never seen them. She believes that he has other children.

He and Anne have been married for six years.

When they were dating he told her that his father

was very abusive to him when he was a child. He was the

middle child of seven brothers and sisters. His father

would break up furniture, beat his mother, and use his

fists on all the children when they were very young.

Anne's husband has a history of driving while intox-

icated, resisting arrest, and assaulting police officers.

He is currently on probation. He also has been arrested

for torturing animals. He is now in counseling with a

court appointed psychiatrist and is taking an anti-


Anne's husband was verbally abusive after their

first year of marriage and began calling her names, told

her she was stupid and ugly, and not capable of taking

care of herself. The second year of their marriage he

broke the bedroom furniture into pieces and she threatened

a divorce. He controlled his physical outbursts for


several months. As they continued to live together, he be-

came extremely jealous of her activities around other men

and would not let her work because he thought she wanted

to work to be around other men. Anne has remained mono-

gamous throughout the marriage.

Anne's husband was not physically abusive towards

her until she was pregnant with their first child, who is

now two and a half years old. Anne is once again pregnant

and the physical beatings have become more severe. During

the last six months that they lived together he beat her

more often and began hitting her with a lead pipe. During

this time period he attacked Anne's mother and sister when

they tried to talk with him about his treatment of Anne.

Both required emergency room treatment for cracked ribs

and a broken nose.

Anne called the police during this battering and he

was arrested. He was released on bond and at that time he

threatened to steal their son and to make sure that she

would never see him again if she did not drop the charges.

Anne dropped the charges.

Anne considered suicide several times during the

last year. She became further humiliated when he demanded

sex after a beating and then forced her. During the early

years of their marriage their sex life had been more than

satisfactory and she described it as the only time they

were close.

As the abuse increased Anne tried to appease her

husband by making special efforts to keep the house clean,


to keep the baby quiet, to be available whenever he wanted

something, and she would not talk with him unless he spoke

to her first. When these appeasements did not work, she be-

gan to fight back physically. This increased the severity

of the attacks and she was battered more violently. She

went to the hospital emergency room for treatment only

once and lied about how she received her injuries. Each

time he would beg her forgiveness and she would hope that

he could change.

During another battering episode, she left the

house and tried to run her husband down with her car when

he followed her. She finally escaped and called the spouse

abuse shelter. Anne's relatives, friends and clergy have

all supported her in this move. Anne stated several times

in her interviews that she felt depressed, confused and

"crazy" when she was living with her husband. After the in-

cident with the lead pipe, her fear turned to hatred and

revenge. She also was surprised that she had tried to run

him over with the car and decided that she needed to leave

or she would kill him.

In the shelter environment Anne was quiet and fear-

ful during the first few weeks. She gave excuses for her

husband's behavior and said that it was mostly her fault

that he had hit her. She was very interested in the group

therapy sessions and began to actively participate. She

also asked to help in the spouse abuse center office and

was competent at handling crisis calls from other battered

women. During her last few weeks in the shelter she


refused to talk with her husband and stated that she did

not want to put herself and her family through his abuse


Shelter staff reported that she was receptive to

change and would reexamine herself and what happened in

her marriage. She would act on positive suggestions and

try to use common sense instead of her feelings when mak-

ing decisions about herself and the children and their fu-

ture. She is an effective parent and uses verbal disci-

pline. Her child is well behaved and cooperative. She

plans to live on welfare and food stamps until the baby is

born. Then she wants to find a job. Her mother and sister

have remained supportive and plan to help her with child


MMPI. Anne's scores on the MMPI (see Appendix C,

Table C-1) indicated a normal psychological profile. She

is energetic, neither especially introverted nor extro-

verted, and she is optimistic not depressed. She may evi-

dence some situational distrust of others but she is not

paranoid. She views herself as physically healthy.

TSCS. Anne's scores on the TSCS (see Appendix C,

Table C-2) indicated an average self-esteem with more

positive views in Self-Satisfaction (Row 2), Moral-Ethical

Self (Column B), and Personal Self (Column C). Her scores

were well below the norm mean in Family Self (Column D).

ANS-IE. Anne chose 15 external answers from a

possible 40 on the ANS-IE. This score indicated a very

external locus of control perception (see Appendix C,

Table C-3).

Case 2. Betty is a shy, slender 20 year old mar-

ried woman who was the youngest of four children born to

her mother's first marriage. Her father and mother were di-

vorced when she was nine years old and her mother remar-

ried immediately. She liked her new stepfather and de-

scribes her childhood home as peaceful and loving. She

does remember seeing her mother throw objects at her na-

tural father on several occasions but this did not con-

tinue after her mother remarried. She and the other chil-

dren were occasionally spanked. She currently gets along

well with her childhood family members.

Betty quit high school during her second year and

moved in with her boyfriend when she was 13. She became

pregnant by him at 15 and they married. During the early

months of her marriage, she worked in an iron foundry. She

quit because her husband didn't want her to work after

they were married.

Betty considers herself somewhat religious and was

raised by Baptist parents. When she began having problems

early in her marriage, she consulted with a church coun-


Betty has average health but complains about head-

aches and backaches. She takes no medication and has not

consulted a physician. She was ashamed and did not seek

treatment for the cuts, bruises, and twisted muscles she

received from her husband. She occasionally drinks wine


but she does not take prescription or illicit drugs al-

though they are available to her from her husband.

Betty's husband is a tall, muscular 30 year old

unemployed carpenter. He was the second youngest in a fam-

ily of eight children. His parents were divorced before he

was 16 and his father died the next year. His father beat

his mother and all the children. The brothers and sisters

also constantly fought with each other. This is his first

marriage. Betty is aware that he has battered other girl-

friends and has had children with these women. Although

his family of origin was not religious, he now frequently

attends church and considers himself a good Baptist.

He has a history of heart problems but he continues

to take "pills," speed and alcohol. He is a heavy drinker

and has served a one year jail sentence for assaulting

another man when he was drunk. Betty stayed with her

father during her husband's jail sentence.

The first battering took place after three months

of marriage. He blackened her eye, threatened to shoot

her, and beat her with his fists. They have three young

children under the age of four. He beat her during each


Betty stated that the beatings were becoming more

violent and there seemed to be no reason for them. She

would try to quietly talk with him to calm him. She blamed

herself until she discovered that there was nothing she

could do to appease him. After long hours of arguing she


would talk back to him "so he would hit me and get it over


He would come home drunk and physically drag her

out of bed and demand that she fix dinner for him at 3 or

4 A.M. He would then look throughout the house to find

something out of place to blame on her inadequate house-

keeping. Their arguments concerned money, his drinking,

their parents, and his jealousy.

Betty's husband has beat her in front of the chil-

dren and in front of other people. By 1983 she had called

the police three times. Each time she told the police that

she didn't want him to go to jail; she just wanted him to

stop beating her and to stay away from her. Betty felt

that if she put him in jail, he would come back and kill


Betty left her husband 12 times. Each time her

family members were supportive and gave her and the chil-

dren housing. Each time he found her and begged her for-

giveness and promised to never hit her again. The last few

times she left, he found her and physically dragged her

back to their house. She eventually threatened him with a

gun and began fighting back using objects in the house as

weapons. When she fought back, her injuries were more


She seriously considered suicide after an episode

of leaving and having him physically drag her back from

her mother's home. Betty continues to feel powerless to


change the situation and thinks that he will soon find her

in the shelter.

Betty states that she and her husband enjoyed a

loving and satisfying sex life during their dating rela-

tionship. He would talk with her during those times and re-

veal his feelings about his life. However, she knows very

little about his past. She has heard from others that he

has been in trouble with the police. He does not talk at

length about his parents or his childhood except to say

that it was violent and his father beat him severely.

She also does not know where he obtains money since

he usually does not work. He has had temporary jobs as a

carpenter or cook. She has to beg him for money to feed

the children.

Betty asked for help from a church pastor and a

local social worker at the health department after a

serious beating. Both asked her to call the shelter and

helped her to move her children and their belongings.

Betty remains passive and has a difficult time

making decisions. She is waiting for him to find her. She

anxiously wants the other women in the shelter to like her

and she will not express anger toward them when they have

taken advantage of her. She continues to tell the shelter

staff that she "needs" her children more than other

mothers do.

VMMPI. Betty's scores (see Table C-1) were ele-

vated on four scales (Pd, Pa, Sc, and Ma). Betty's MMPI

profile indicated she is passive and submissive and may


try to emulate the passive female stereotype. She could be

expected to be passive-aggressive in relationships with

men and may have unsuccessful interpersonal relationship

with men as a result of these tendencies. During the time

of this testing she is excessively suspicious, maybe even

paranoid. Some of her life experiences may have varied

from the conventional realm. Her ideas may become irra-

tional when she is upset. Although she is not prone to

bizarre or psychotic behavior, she has very little self-

confidence and unusually low ego strength. She is not a

good candidate for psychotherapy.

TSCS. Betty's scores on the TSCS (see Table

C-2) were all below the mean. Her profile indicated very

low self-esteem and a negative self-image except in Per-

sonal Self (Column C). There were indications that she is

guarded and defensive. Her scores on the Empirical Scales

were elevated in General Maladjustment (GM) and Neurosis


ANS-IE. Betty chose 21 external answers on the

ANS-IE from a possible 40 (see Table C-3). This score in-

dicated an extremely high external locus of control per-


Case 3. Carol is an attractive, well-dressed 30

year old woman who was the youngest of two children born

to her mother and father's only marriage. Carol did not re-

member any physical violence between her parents but she

states that her mother and father did not love each other.

Both of the children were punished with moderate


spankings. Her father recently died and Carol felt at the

time that there was no longer any reason for her to live.

Carol describes her childhood home as secure. Her

parents were well respected in the community, owned a

large business, and lived comfortably. The children were

always bought all the toys and clothes that they wanted.

Carol was "Daddy's little girl" and was favored over her

sister by her father. She never got along well with her

mother and says she would intentionally try to cause

trouble for her mother. She states that her mother was

always critical of her and never supportive. It is interes-

ting to note that during the last battering she received

from her husband, her mother held her down and said she de-

served the beating. Her mother also called shelter staff

to tell them that her daughter deserved to be disciplined.

Carol graduated from high school and received addi-

tional training as an executive secretary. She married a

year after she graduated from high school. She has two

children under 10 years of age from this first marriage.

She states that this husband and an older female cousin

tried to have her institutionalized for drug addiction.

This marriage ended in divorce after the second child was


Carol was raised in a Baptist family and still con-

siders herself religious. She says she would like her chil-

dren to be raised in a religious family atmosphere. Carol

is in good health but must watch her diet and drinking

since she is a diabetic. She used drugs heavily during her


first marriage but states she is not using drugs now. How-

ever, shelter staff reports that her current friends are

known drug dealers and users.

Carol's husband is a 33 year old business owner who

was married previously for seven years. He has two chil-

dren from that marriage. Carol does not know if he was

physically abusive towards his previous wife. He was the

middle child of five brothers and sisters and his parents

are still married. Carol knows very little about his par-

ents or his childhood.

Carol does not readily reveal information about her

husband except to say that she does not love him and mar-

ried him for his money. They have been married four years

and have one three year old child. When talking about her

husband, she often states that no one will ever replace

her father.

Carol's husband was not physically abusive towards

her when they were dating. He would become upset with her

behavior because he thought she drank and flirted too

much. He began slapping and choking her a few months after

they were married. Each time he promised her he would not

do it again. The third year of their marriage he had an

affair with another woman. Carol left him for three days

and he asked for her forgiveness. She returned to the mari-

tal home. This year she had an affair with another man and

he beat her when he found out.

There were long verbal arguments before each

attack. These arguments were about his jealousy or her


behavior. She would try to walk away and not argue with

him. Carol states that he was not drunk or high any time

that he beat her. The batterings began to increase in

number and in violence as she refused to stop seeing the

other man.

In the past year they have both threatened each

other with a gun. Carol began to fight back. The bat-

terings have taken place in front of the children (her two

children from a previous marriage and their younger son).

She slapped him prior to the last beating and threatened

him with a gun because he would not let her leave the

house. He began hitting her and her mother held her down

for him when she tried to get away. She received a

sprained arm, a swollen ankle, a black eye, a split lip,

broken teeth, and bruises on her head and body. Following

this beating he called the spouse abuse center office and

told the shelter counselors that he had to control her and

had the right to punish her.

Carol had all three children with her in shelter.

She was a good mother and would help the other women with

parenting skills when she was there. Staff was warned by

several attorneys that her husband would buy the best

legal advice and try to prove she was an unfit mother and

a drug addict. A temporary custody hearing was held and he

received custody of all the children. Carol was upset and

hysterical when she had to let the children go with him.

Her mother has moved in with her husband to provide child

care. Her mother has also told the staff that Carol should


stay with her husband since he is wealthy and can afford

to take care of her (the mother), Carol, and all the chil-


Carol does not readily reveal personal information.

She admits that she is impulsive and very much in love

with another man. She does not plan to stop seeing him no

matter what her husband does to her. She tries to portray

herself as a person who does not become upset easily, can

handle things, and always goes by all the rules. She is

cheerful but secretive around the other women residents.

She usually leaves the shelter during the day and returns

late at night. She is afraid that her husband will "set

her up" because she knows things about him that would "get

him in trouble."

She is seeking a job and plans to obtain a divorce.

Her most evident emotion is the hatred she has for her

mother and the love she has for her children. Her husband

continues to call her and promises that he will not beat

her again. However, he also states that he still has the

right to punish her if she is a "bad woman" and he does

not intend to give up that right.

PMPI. Carol's MMPI scores (see Table C-1) are

elevated on three scales (Pd, Pa, and Ma). Her profile is

indicative of a strong denial of feelings and she is prob-

ably concealing depression. She can be very emotional at

times in a histrionic fashion. She views herself as highly

energetic and extroverted. In reality she is passive and

submissive. She may use her sexuality in an attempt to


manipulate men she knows. Despite her pleasant, outward ex-

terior and friendly relationships toward people, she's not

a trusting person and there's much anxiety beneath her

seemingly calm exterior.

TSCS. Carol's scores on the TSCS (see Table C-2)

were variable around the norm mean. Her scores indicated a

moderately low self-esteem with high scores above the norm

mean on Self-Satisfaction (Row 2) and Personal Self

(Column C), and very low scores below the norm mean on

Identity (Row 1) and Family Self (Column D).

ANS-IE. Carol chose nine external answers on the

ANS-IE from a possible score of 40 (see Table C-3). This

score indicated an average internal locus of control


Case 4. Dotty is a loud, aggressive 25 year old

woman who was the eldest of six brothers and sisters. Her

mother is still married to her father but she has not seen

him in 22 years. He left the family when Dotty was three.

The day he left, she watched him severely beat her mother.

Her mother has lived in a conjugal-type relationship with

several men since that time and has had several children

by these different men. She describes her childhood home-

life as very violent.

All of the brothers and sisters were beaten by the

various stepfather figures. One stepfather would make them

kneel in rice for several hours as a punishment. She was

sexually molested by two of her stepfathers.


At the age of 11 she was raped by one assailant as

she walked home from school. He cut both of her inner

thighs with a knife and said he was going to teach her she

was worthless. She participated as a witness against him

in his trial but was harassed, followed, and threatened by

his family members for several months after he was sen-

tenced to prison. Her mother then placed her in a state

foster home because she did not want her. During her stay

at the foster home, she was raped in the bathroom by a

group of girls.

She managed to finish her GED and attended two

years of college. She quit college when she was in a motor-

cycle accident and was not able to attend classes that

semester. She has worked as a machine operator and as a

counselor in a teen program. She has been married three

times: once for four days, once for eight months, and this

present marriage of five years.

Dotty's childhood home was Catholic and the chil-

dren were forced to attend services. The mother and vari-

ous stepfathers did not attend church. She currently con-

siders herself as not at all religious.

Dotty describes her health as average although she

has asthma and an ulcer. She is currently taking pre-

scribed medications for these conditions. She also has a

serious drinking problem which she is trying to control.

She is working with the alcohol counselors at the local

mental health center. Dotty drank heavily the first two

weeks in shelter. She has recently quit drinking.


Dotty considered suicide once when she was in the

state foster home. This followed the group rape. A friend

broke in the bathroom door and took the razor away from

her. Dotty felt that she had to leave her present husband

or she would again feel suicidal.

Dotty's husband is a 35 year old mechanic who was

the eldest of six children. His parents are still married

to each other. His parents would argue constantly but

there was no physical violence between them. All five boys

were beaten by both parents every week. The one sister was

not spanked or beaten and was the parents' favorite

child. The brothers often fought physically with each


Dotty's husband has a history of abuse of speed

and marijuana but not alcohol. He will hit her when he has

been using drugs and alcohol and when he has not been

using them. He has been involved in several fights with

other people and likes to shoot animals. He had an erratic

military record and was discharged for bad conduct. He has

been arrested for DUI, resisting arrest, and assaulting a

police officer in this state. There have been assault

charges and convictions in three other states.

Dotty met her husband when she was 16. Earlier in

that year she was married to someone else. The first mar-

riage ended in divorce and she began dating her present

husband. While they were dating, he would argue vehemently

with her and slap her. She became scared and remained

quiet whenever he would argue. She lived with him for a

few years and would not marry him. Each time he would ask,

she would give an excuse to delay the decision. She became

angry with his behavior after a few years, left him, and

married another man for eight months. She obtained a di-

vorce and moved back in with her present husband. She be-

came pregnant with his child and they finally married in


Dotty and her husband have two children who are

two and five years old. Her husband became extremely jeal-

ous after the first child was born and accused her of

seeing other men. He was also jealous of the attention she

gave to the baby. There were three major attacks after the

birth of their second child. He would begin by accusing

her of being a "rotten wife and mother." She would ask for

a separation and he would beat her. During the most recent

attack he blackened her eyes, knocked out her front teeth,

dislocated her jaw, fractured her cheek bone, and threat-

ened to kill her. He then took her to the hospital emer-

gency room for treatment.

The youngest child, a two year old girl, has been

battered by him on several occasions. The child abuse

authorities were called and investigated. He stated during

these beatings that he never wanted a girl; he only wanted

boy children.

Dotty describes their sex life as strange. During

the past two years as the arguments have become more vio-

lent, he has demanded that she let him stick foreign ob-

jects into her body and then have intercourse with the


objects still inserted. If she would not cooperate, he

would tie her up, hold her down, or hit her.

Dotty had her husband arrested and is partici-

pating in prosecution. When they discuss child visitation

on the telephone, he continues to threaten her and says

that he will kill her, or take their son and disappear. He

has told his lawyer and several others that he will "blow

her away." He has also recently purchased a gun.

Dotty is often hostile, takes offense easily, and

says that she is aggressive to others before they have a

chance to hurt her. She stated during the interviews that

she didn't know the treatment she received from her hus-

band was bad until she thought he would kill her. She be-

lieved that all relationships between men and women were

this way.

Dotty's children have numerous behavior problems.

The youngest girl constantly whines, screams, cries, scrat-

ches, and bites. Dotty's son hits her when he wants some-

thing. She has been attending parenting skills classes

since she came into the shelter and states that she enjoys


MMPI. Dotty's MMPI scores (see Table C-1)

indicated an essentially normal psychological profile of a

somewhat introverted woman. She may experience some feel-

ings of depression or physical somatic symptomotology.

This does not appear to be excessive and probably does not

incapacitate her on a psychological level.


TSCS. Dotty's scores on the TSCS (see Table

C-2) indicated a very low self-esteem and a poor self-

image in all areas. Her highest score, Self-Satisfaction

(Row 2), was also below the norm mean. There was evidence

in the profile to indicate that she is defensive and

guarded. Dotty's scores were elevated on the Empirical

Scales in the areas of General Maladjustment (GM) and were

well above the mean on the Personality Disorder (PD) and

Neurosis (N).

ANS-IE. Dotty chose 17 external answers on the

ANS-IE from a possible of 40 (see Table C-3). This score

indicated a very high external locus of control per-


Case 5. Eve is a quiet, downcast, sad but pretty

29 year old married woman. She was the second of two chil-

dren by her mother and father's first and only marriage.

There was no physical violence between her parents. How-

ever, she remembers that her mother was always pacifying

her father and agreed with everything that he said or did.

Eve has vivid memories of being locked in her closet for

long periods of time. Her mother would hold her down while

her father beat her with a belt and a belt buckle. Her

sister was not physically disciplined and was considered

the "good" child in the family. Eve says she always felt

like an "outsider" when she was living with her parents

and sister.

Eve graduated from high school and worked as a

secretary. She was married for a few years to a man who


was good to her but he died. She has dated several men and

led an active social life prior to this present marriage.

She was raised in the Methodist church, but she con-

siders herself as antireligion at this time. During her

childhood the family attended services on a weekly basis.

Eve refuses to attend church now and refuses to talk with

her family minister.

Eve describes her health as average. She does have

high blood pressure and gastrointestinal problems. She

drinks alcohol and frequently smokes marijuana. She has

considered suicide on several occasions but only made one

actual attempt. A friend found her in the bathroom, broke

down the door and took the razor away from her.

Eve's husband is a 25 year old American Indian who

is employed as a plant supervisor. He was raised with 15

brothers and sisters in a physically violent home. His

mother and father both died when he was a 10 and he lived

in foster care with a Jesuit priest. He stayed with the

priest until he was 13. At that time he worked on various

ranches and farms as a hired hand. He completed high

school and received special training as a machinist. He is

presently employed and has had the same job for three

years. He considers himself not at all religious.

Eve and her husband have two children, ages one and

four. This is his first marriage. He is a good father and

seems to love the children. He does not physically abuse



Eve's husband has been drinking since he was a

young child. He also uses several other kinds of street

drugs. He has a juvenile delinquent history but he has not

been in trouble with the authorities since he became an

adult. He will always beat her when he is drinking. How-

ever, recently he began beating Eve when he had not used

either drugs or alcohol.

Eve's husband first beat her when they were dating.

She married him a year later. During their marriage of

five years he has slapped her, shoved her, thrown her or

beat her on a monthly basis. He will beat her in the pres-

ence of other people. If they interfere, he also batters

them. Each time she became pregnant the violence in-


He would often tell her that it aggravated him when

she was quiet and withdrawn. He also would beat her if she

"talked back" to him. His favorite harassment was to call

her what her father called her: "old, fat, dumb, and

ugly." One of the times that he attacked her in a public

place, a customer asked him to quit. He would not quit and

the customer beat him up. When they went home, Eve's hus-

band beat her and threatened her with a knife for asking

for help.

Eve received no medical treatment and did not call

the police. Her injuries over the years have included

black eyes, a broken nose, sprained wrists, and a sore

throat and choke bruises on her neck. Her parents were not


supportive and told her that her husband was beating her

because she was doing something wrong.

Eve tried various methods of appeasement. She would

keep the children quiet, not talk with her husband unless

he started the conversation, clean the house, and have din-

ner ready when he came home. He then beat her for being

too quiet. She finally gave up, stayed in the house, tried

to hide her bruises, and felt that she was only living for

the children's sake. She expressed much shame for not

being a good wife and mother and believed that she de-

served the punishment. She began to be sure that nothing

she did would satisfy her husband, so she didn't do any-

thing except care for the children.

As she became more and more depressed, her friends

and parents saw less and less of her. They convinced her

to come to the shelter for help after he threatened her

with a knife. Her mother's attitude was that she knew the

director of the shelter and "that woman would straighten

Eve out and show her the error of her ways." Her parents

still wanted her to remain in the marriage.

In the shelter environment Eve was quiet, very pas-

sive, and could not make a decision. She would not accept

positive suggestions in group and said it was all hope-

less. Her communication skills were limited and she was

not able to follow a logical thought pattern. She was not

able to see behavior and consequences. She continued to

take excellent care of her children.


As she remained in the shelter environment, she be-

came more talkative. She would not react when other women

would use her or take advantage of her. She simply ex-

pected this kind of treatment. She has not continued to

see her husband.

vMMPI. Eve's MvMPI scores (see Table C-1) were

elevated on six scales (D, Pd, Pa, Pt, Sc, and Si). This

profile indicated that Eve could harm herself if her

degree of depression remains as high as it is presently.

Her somewhat submissive nature precludes this action to

some extent. If her anxiety level becomes higher she may

begin some bizarre ideation. She could kill herself. Her

low ego strength indicates that she is not a good candi-

date for individual psychotherapy.

TSCS. Eve's scores on the TSCS (see Table C-2)

indicated an extremely low self-esteem and negative self-

image in all areas. Her scores on Defensive Positive (DP)

indicated that she is lacking in the usual defenses to

even maintain minimal self-esteem. Her scores on the Empir-

ical Scales were well above the norm on the General Mal-

adjustment (GM), the Psychosis (PSY), the Personality Dis-

order (PD), and the Neurosis (N) scales. Eve had an ex-

tremely low score on Personality Integration (PI).

ANS-IE. Eve chose 27 external answers on the

ANS-IE out of a possible 40 (see Table C-3). This score

indicated an extremely high external locus of control per-

cept ion.


Case 6. Fran is a disheveled, frantic 20 year

old married woman. She leaves an initial impression of

being wild-eyed and confused. She is very overweight for

her height. She was the eldest of four children born to

her mother and several husbands. She does not remember her

natural father. Her mother has been married seven times

and was severely beaten by each husband. Her mother beat

her and the other children weekly, and left welts, marks,

and cuts. She describes her childhood home as turbulent

and violent. She becomes uncomfortable and agitated discus-

sing those memories and refuses to go into detail.

Fran did admit during subsequent interviews that

she had been sexually molested by one of her stepfathers.

The abuse took place over a period of years and it in-

volved full intercourse. She has never told her mother or

anyone else about this abuse.

Fran graduated from high school and moved in with

a boyfriend. When her boyfriend began slapping and hitting

her she moved back in with her mother. She then began

dating her present husband.

Fran's various parent figures were Protestant and

usually attended weekly church services with the children.

She now considers herself deeply religious and she and her

husband have become Seventh Day Adventists.

Fran considers herself in good health but is wor-

ried about her obesity and the daily muscle spasms which

she experiences in her legs. She has not had the money to

consult a physician and does not take drugs, prescribed or

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - Version 2.9.7 - mvs