Date of Award

Summer 7-8-2019

Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name





intimate partner violence, reciprocal communication, self-compassion, self-silencing, sexual compliance, young women


Senn, Charlene




Through gender role socialization, some women learn self-silencing behaviours for the purpose of relationship maintenance, and these behaviours may be more prominent among young women experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). Little research has assessed nonclinical samples of young women who are at most risk of experiencing IPV. In this study, young women aged 17-24 (university: N = 301; community: N = 34) completed measures online and a series of retrospective path analyses were used with the university sample. More frequent abuse experience was associated with more self-silencing. The association between abuse frequency and self-silencing was hypothesized to possibly be indirect through self-compassion (a trait involving showing oneself kindness which may discourage self-silencing) and this hypothesis was supported. Although momentarily useful, self-silencing has consequences in other areas of the relationship and these consequences were also investigated. The effects of IPV experience and self-silencing on [non-]constructive communication and sexual compliance within the relationship were evaluated. Self-silencing was associated with less constructive and more nonconstructive communication as well as more sexual compliance. When combined in the final model, more frequent IPV experience was associated with more self-silencing, and self-compassion negatively mediated this relationship, resulting in less constructive and more nonconstructive communication, but not sexual compliance. Most of these relationships replicated in the small community sample. These findings suggest that self-silencing is common under the current social conditions and that it fosters relational consequences that are exacerbated by frequent IPV experience. Future mixed-methods research should explore whether self-silencing is context-dependent or longer-lasting, disrupting future relationships. Replication of this study in a larger community sample would allow greater generalization of the findings.