Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Senn, Charlene Y.,


Psychology, Social.




Previous studies of social support for abused women have reported both supportive and unsupportive responses from friends and relatives to disclosures of abuse. Little attention has been paid to factors that influence such support. The present study examined influences on social support for abused women and on how it was evaluated. Of particular interest was the impact of the confidants' experiences of abuse. Other potential influences included the abused women's and their confidants' attributions for the abuse, the confidants' attitude toward abuse and loyalty to the abusive partner, the prior relationship history of the confidants and the abused women, and the abused women's beliefs about help-seeking. Three hundred and six female undergraduates completed extensive surveys assessing their experiences of abuse, disclosure, and social support, as well as their experiences with other women's disclosures of abuse and their responses. Factors influencing social support and the evaluation of support were identified through regression analyses. When women disclose abuse that was verbal in nature, the tendency toward unsupportive responses n increased if their chosen confidant had experienced more severe abuse. This finding suggests that the disparity in experiences of abuse has deleterious effects on social support for abused women. Moreover, the shared experiences of abuse do not necessarily facilitate supportive responses to disclosures. Other impediments to effective social support included the confidants' loyalty to women's abusive partners and a history of conflict with the confidants. Confidants' and women's attributions for their abuse also influenced the evaluation of support. Suggestions for future studies of social support for abused women and for interventions based on the findings of the present study are presented.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1997 .D86. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 59-08, Section: B, page: 4535. Adviser: Charlene Y. Senn. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1997.