PTSD, Gender, and IPV Perpetration: How (Not) Expressing Emotions Matters

Open Access
Sullivan, Timothy Joseph
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Amy Dyanna Marshall, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kenneth Levy, Honors Advisor
  • PTSD
  • emotional inexpressivity
  • naive coding
  • partner violence
  • relationships
This study investigated the role of one’s own and one’s partner’s posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity and emotional inexpressivity in intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration among both men and women. Participants included 114 individuals from 57 rural community couples in which at least one partner met screening criteria for probable PTSD. Each couple engaged in a 10-minute videotaped discussion regarding the highest rated negative issue in the relationship as rated by both partners. Participants reviewed their video and identified time points where they experienced an emotion, which was subsequently coded for behavioral inexpressivity of positive and negative emotions. Actor-partner interdependence models indicate that among men, greater positive inexpressivity, as well as less negative inexpressivity, interacts with PTSD symptom severity to predict increased IPV perpetration. For women, greater actor negative inexpressivity and actor PTSD symptom severity predicts increased IPV perpetration. Additionally, women’s greater emotional inexpressivity interacts with their partners’ PTSD symptom severity to predict women’s IPV perpetration. Results are discussed in the context of current theory of PTSD and IPV perpetration, and the broader effects of emotional inexpressivity on adverse relationship outcomes. Overall, our findings provide support for the use of emotion-focused therapy techniques among individual and couples therapy for individuals with PTSD.