Post-traumatic stress is a common issue facing victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) and is more prevalent in victims who flee to shelters than those who do not. “Approximately one in four women reports a history of intimate partner violence,” said researchers from the University of Akron, Butler Hospital, Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University and the Cleveland Veteran’s Administration Hospital. “Consistently, recent research suggests that PTSD symptoms in IPV victims are associated with increased risk of re-abuse.” Although shelters offer safety, they do not usually provide strategies to help these victims cope with the trauma of the abuse. However, a new intervention program, Helping to Overcome PTSD through Empowerment (HOPE), may offer literal hope to these people.
Researchers enlisted 70 abuse victims from two shelters to examine how effects of Hope plus standard shelter services (SSS) compared to the effect of SSS alone. All of the participants met the criteria for IPV induced PTSD, which entailed exposure to violence, recurrence of symptoms and presence of symptoms for a minimum of four weeks. Additionally, each test subject experienced impaired functioning, avoidance and increased excitement as a result of the abuse. After 12 bi-weekly sessions, the participants who received the HOPE had a significantly lower dropout rate, of only 6.67%, than those the SSS group. At three follow up points, one week, 12 weeks and 24 weeks after leaving the shelter, those who did continue the HOPE treatment reported high levels of satisfaction with the program.
The researchers emphasized the importance of the results of their study. “Findings suggest that HOPE may be significantly associated with victims’ increased safety after leaving shelter.” The researchers added, “Women who only received SSS were 12 times more likely to be re-abused relative to participants who received a minimal dose of HOPE. Targeting PTSD symptoms may be one useful strategy in reducing the risk of re-abuse in IPV victims with PTSD.”
Johnson, Dawn M., Caron Zlotnick, and Sara Perez. “Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of PTSD in Residents of Battered Women’s Shelters: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 79.4 (2011): 542-51. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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