Predicting Emotional Abuse Among a Sample of College Students


Spadine, Mandy; Patterson, Megan S.; Brown, Sydney; Nelon, Jordan; Lanning, Beth; and Johnson, Dawn M.


2020 in Journal of American College Health

  • This study found that frequent pornography use increased odds of experiencing emotional abuse.
Objective: This study aims to examine factors related to emotional abuse, an understudied type of intimate partner violence (IPV), among a sample of college students. Participants: 601 undergraduates from one large public university in the Midwestern United States (Spring 2017) and 756 undergraduates from one large public university in the Southern United States (Fall 2019) participated in the study. Methods: Participants completed an online survey measuring demographic information, behavioral variables (viewing porn, alcohol... READ FULL ABSTRACT
  • "One unique finding from our study is that with each additional increase in pornography frequency score, the odds of reporting emotional abuse increased nearly 17%. While specific to sexual assault, previous IPV literature reports female victims of sexual violence were more like to report ever watching porn or currently watch porn. A possible explanation for these results for emotional abuse could be that less self-worth and more depressive symptoms have been associated with pornography use. Correspondingly, low self-worth and depression are risk factors for emotional abuse. In addition, previous emotional abuse may reduce the desire of a person to participate in a physical sexual encounter, thus resulting in more pornography use. While the temporality of the observed correlation between pornography and emotional abuse is unclear, it would be helpful to include information about pornography and potential negative consequences in future college-based interventions."
  • "In the same vein, another suggestion for future programs should include activities to facilitate social connections among college students as a means to reduce emotional abuse victimization. Many of the risk factors related to emotional abuse victimization (risky drinking, hooking up, viewing pornography) could indicate a need to feel belonging or closeness, even artificially. Therefore, fostering social connections between students might provide opportunities for bystander intervention, as well as feelings of belonging with peers."
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