Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Christine Fiore

Commitee Members

Nadine Wisniewski, Rosemary Hughes


Children, Decision Making, Intimate Partner Violence, Women


University of Montana


Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) occurs in 10-69% of the world’s population (World Health Organization, 2002). Women are at much greater risk of experiencing IPV than men. Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse has a psychological impact, not only upon the individual, but family members and future inter-familial generations. The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as feelings of helplessness and emotional numbing may impede a woman’s decision making and help-seeking activities. Additionally, it has been found that about half of women who experience abuse have children, and that children witnessing IPV are at a greater risk for abuse, behavioral problems, and psychological problems. The following study addresses how women consider their children in their decision making processes. Two-hundred semi-structured interviews were analyzed using NVivo8 computer software (2008), inter-rating reliabilities, and grounded theory. Themes regarding the stay-leave decision making process for women with children are presented. Additionally, quantitative analysis was used to examine significant differences between women with children and women without children on the variables of length of time spent in the relationship and on the severity of violence experienced by women. Results indicate that women with children remain in violent relationships longer and endure a higher frequency of severe abuse.

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© Copyright 2009 Geniel Amelia Hernandez Armstrong