Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 29, Issue 7, pp 703–712 | Cite as

Acts of Intimate Partner Violence and Feelings of Danger in Battered Women Seeking Help in a Spanish Specialized Care Unit

  • Montse Davins-Pujols
  • Manel Salamero
  • Berta Aznar-Martínez
  • Inés Aramburu-Alegret
  • Carles Pérez-Testor
Research on the Effects of Intimate Partner Violence on Women


Acts of violence recounted by 161 female victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) attended at a psychological care service in Spain are presented. The relationship between acts of violence and feelings of danger, childhood abuse, and dyadic adjustment are analyzed. Reported acts of IPV were obtained through a Semi-structured Interview on Domestic Violence; and marital satisfaction was assessed with the Dyadic Adjustment Scale. The results showed women who have felt their lives were in danger are more likely to have been victimized. In addition, women who were both abused by their partner and sexually abuse as children are the ones that perceive more situations of danger in their adult couple relationship. The importance of studying perceived danger and the diversity of IPV experiences are discussed to aid prevention and intervention strategies.


Intimate partner violence Violent acts Feelings of danger Battered women 


  1. Alasker, K., Kristoffersen, K., Moen, B. E., & Baste, V. (2011). Threats and acts of intimate partner violence reported by users at Norwegian women’s shelters. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(5), 950–970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alberdi, I., & Matas, N. (2002). La violencia doméstica. Informe sobre los malos tratos a mujeres en España [Domestic violence. Report about maltreatment to women in Spain]. Barcelona: Fundación “La Caixa”. Colección Estudios Sociales, 10.Google Scholar
  3. Amor, P. J., Echeburúa, E., Corral, P., Sarasua, B., & Zubizarreta, I. (2001). Maltrato físico y maltrato psicológico en mujeres víctimas de violencia en el hogar: Un estudio comparativo [Physical and psychological abuse in women victims of domestic violence: A comparative study]. Revista de Psicopatología y Psicología Clínica, 6(3), 167–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett, B. J., & Pierre, M. (2011). Variations in women’s help seeking in response to intimate partner violence: findings from Canadian population-based study. Violence Against Women, 17(1), 47–70.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Black, B. M., Tolman, R. M., Callahan, M., Saunders, D. G., & Weisz, A. N. (2008). When will adolescents tell someone about dating violence victimization? Violence Against Women, 14(7), 741–758.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cáceres, J. (2004). Violencia física, psicológica y sexual en el ámbito de la pareja: papel del contexto [Physical, psychological and sexual violence in the couple: the role of context]. Clínica y Salud, 15(1), 33–54.Google Scholar
  7. Campbell, J. C. (2002). Health consequences of intimate partner violence. The Lancet, 359, 1331–1336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campbell, J. C. (2004). Helping women understand their risk in situations of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 19, 1464–1477.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Coker, A. L., Smith, P. H., McKeown, R. E., & King, M. J. (2000). Frequency and correlates of intimate partner violence by type: physical, sexual, and psychological battering. American Journal of Public Health, 90(4), 553–559.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Connor-Smith, J. K., Henning, K., Moore, S., & Holdford, R. (2011). Risk assessment by female victims of intimate partner violence: predictors of risk perceptions and comparison to an actuarial measure. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 26(2), 2517–2550.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davins-Pujols, M., Pérez-Testor, C., Salamero-Baró, M., & Castillo-Garayoa, J. A. (2012). Personality profiles in abused women receiving psychotherapy according to the existence of childhood abuse. Journal of Family Violence, 27(2), 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dichter, M.E. (2010). Safety risks and service needs among women who have experienced police intervention for intimate partner violence. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 70(10-A), 4048.Google Scholar
  13. Dichter, M. E., & Gelles, R. J. (2012). Women’s perceptions of safety and risk following police intervention for intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, 18(1), 44–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Echeburúa, E. (1994). Personalidades violentas [Violent personalities]. Madrid: Pirámide.Google Scholar
  15. Echeburúa, E., Corral, P., Sarasua, B., Zubizarreta, I., & Sauca, D. (1998). Entrevista Semiestructurada sobre Maltrato Doméstico [Semi-structured Interview on Domestic Violence]. In E. Echeburúa & P. Corral (Eds.), Manual de violencia familiar (pp. 28–31). Madrid: Siglo XXI.Google Scholar
  16. Elliston, E., & Whatley, J. (2002). Why don’t they just leave? The effects of psychological abuse on sheltered women [Abstract]. Dissertation Abstracts International. Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 62(7-A), 2570.Google Scholar
  17. Fanslow, J. L., & Robinson, E. M. (2010). Help-seeking behaviours and reasons for help seeking reported by a representative sample of women victims of intimate partner violence in New Zealand. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25(5), 929–951.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Georgsson, A., Almqvist, K., & Broberg, A. G. (2011). Dissimilarity in vulnerability: self-reported symptoms among children with experiences of intimate partner violence. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 42(5), 539–556.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hong, J. S., Kim, S. M., Yoshihama, M., & Byoun, S.-J. (2010). Wife battering in South Korea: an ecological systems analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(12), 1623–1630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Instituto de la Mujer (2006). III Macroencuesta sobre la violencia contra las mujeres [III Macro-survey violence against women]. Madrid: Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales. Retrieved from
  21. Iverson, K. M., Litwack, S. D., Pineles, S. L., Suvak, M. K., Vaughn, R. A., & Resick, P. A. (2013). Predictors of intimate partner violence revictimization: the relative impact of distinct PTSD symptoms, dissociation, and coping strategies. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(1), 102–110.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jaspard, M. (2001). Nommer et compter les violences envers les femmes: une première enquête nationale en France. Population & Sociétés, 364, 1–4.Google Scholar
  23. Kuijpers, K. F., Van der Knaap, L. M., & Lodewijks, I. A. (2011). Victims’ influence on intimate partner violence revictimization: a systematic review of prospective evidence. Trauma, Violence and Abuse, 12(4), 198–219.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kuijpers, K. F., Van der Knaap, L. M., & Winkel, F. W. (2012). Victims’ influence on intimate partner violence revictimization: an empirical test of dynamic victim-related risk factors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(9), 1716–1742.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lamers-Winkelman, F., Willemen, A. M., & Visser, M. (2012). Adverse childhood experiences of referred children exposed to intimate partner violence: consequences for their wellbeing. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(2), 166–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lawrence, E., & Bradbury, T. (2007). Trajectories of change in physical aggression and marital satisfaction. Journal of Family Psychology, 21(2), 236–247.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ley Orgánica 1/2004, de 28 de diciembre, de medidas de protección integral contra la violencia de género, BOE núm. 313 § 21760 (2004). Retrieved from
  28. Markward, M. (1996). Characteristics of sheltered women and intimates in sexually and nonsexually abusive relationships. Family Therapy, 23(1), 59–67.Google Scholar
  29. Mertin, P., & Mohr, P. B. (2001). A follow-up study of posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression in Australian victims of domestic violence. Violence and Victims, 16, 645–654.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Ministerio de Sanidad, Política Social e Igualdad (2011). IV informe anual del observatorio estatal de violencia sobre la mujer [IV annual report of the state observatory of violence in women]. Madrid: Gobierno de España. Retrieved from
  31. Murphy, L. M. (2011). Childhood and adolescent violent victimization and the risk of young adult intimate partner violence victimization. Violence and Victims, 26(5), 593–607.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Neroien, A. I. (2004). Prevalence of intimate partner violence among Norwegian women and its impact on somatic, mental and gynecological health: a population-based survey. Trondheim: NTNU.Google Scholar
  33. Pape, K. T., & Arias, I. (2000). The role of perceptions and attributions in abused women’s intentions to permanently end their violent relationships. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 24(2), 201–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pérez, S. (2001). Psicoteràpia de parella. Un estudi longitudinal [Couple psychotherapy. A longitudinal study]. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Facultat de Psicologia, Ciències de l’Educació i de l’Esport, Blanquerna, Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona.Google Scholar
  35. Pérez, S., Johnson, D. M., Walter, K. H., & Johnson, N. (2012). The role of PTSD and length of shelter stay in battered women’s severity of reabuse after leaving shelter. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 21(7), 776–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pérez-Testor, C., Castillo, J. A., Davins, M., Salamero, M., & San-Martino, M. (2007). Personality profiles in a group of battered women: clinical and care implications. Journal of Family Violence, 22(2), 73–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pico-Alfonso, M. A. (2005). Psychological intimate partner violence: the major predictor of posttraumatic stress disorder in abused women. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 29, 181–193.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pico-Alfonso, M. A., Echeburúa, E., & Martínez, M. (2008). Personality disorder symptoms in women as a result of chronic intimate male partner violence. Journal of Family Violence, 23(7), 577–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pikarinen, U., Saisto, T., Schei, B., Swahnberg, K., & Halmesmäki, E. (2007). Experiences of physical and sexual abuse and their implications for current health. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 109(5), 1116–1122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Richardson, J., Coid, J., Petruckevitch, A., Shan Chung, W., Moorey, S., & Feder, G. (2002). Identifying domestic violence: cross sectional study in primary care. British Medical Journal, 324(7332), 274.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  41. Romans, S., Forte, T., Cohen, M. M., Du Mont, J., & Hyman, I. (2009). Who is most at risk for intimate partner violence? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 22, 1495–1514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ross, J. M. (2012). Self-reported fear in partner violent relationships: findings on gender differences from two samples. Psychology of Violence, 2(1), 58–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Saunders, D. G., Holter, M. C., Pahl, L. C., Tolman, R. M., & Kenna, C. E. (2005). TANF Workers’ responses to battered women and the impact of brief worker training. Violence Against Women, 11(2), 227–254.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Spanier, G. B. (1976). Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stith, S., Green, N., Smith, D., & Ward, D. (2008). Marital satisfaction and marital discord as risk markers for intimate partner violence: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Family Violence, 23, 149–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Straus, H., Cerulli, C., McNutt, L. A., Rhodes, K. V., Conner, K. R., Kemball, R. S., Kaslow, N. J., & Houry, D. (2009). Intimate partner violence and functional health status: associations with severity, danger, and self-advocacy behaviors. Journal of Women’s Health, 18(5), 625–631.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  47. Strube, M. J., & Barbour, L. S. (1984). Factors related to the decision to leave an abusive relationship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 46, 837–844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Vives-Cases, C., & La Parra, D. (2008). Spanish politicians discourse about the responses to violence against women. Gaceta Sanitaria, 22(5), 451–456.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Watts, C., & Zimmerman, C. (2002). Violence against women: global scope and magnitude. The Lancet, 359, 1232–1237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Widding, L. H., & Janson, P. O. (1999). The invisible wounds: the occurrence of psychological abuse and anxiety compared with previous experience of physical abuse during the childbearing year. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 20, 136–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Witte, T. H., & Kendra, R. (2010). Risk recognition and intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 25(12), 2199–2216.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. World Health Organization. (2002). World report on violence and health. Geneva: Author.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Montse Davins-Pujols
    • 1
  • Manel Salamero
    • 1
  • Berta Aznar-Martínez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Inés Aramburu-Alegret
    • 1
  • Carles Pérez-Testor
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Vidal i Barraquer Institute for Mental HealthRamon Llull UniversityBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Education and Sports, BlanquernaRamon Llull UniversityBarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations