Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Kristina Coop Gordon


The purpose of this study was to examine the factors that are predictive of battered women's intent to return to their abusive relationships before exiting a domestic violence shelter. This study also sought to examine those factors that predict domestic violence victims' actual stay/leave behaviors. Specifically, this study sought to replicate and extend the model of research conducted by Choice and Lamke (1999), who examined stay/leave decisions in abusive dating relationships. In the present study, residents of various domestic violence shelters completed a set of questionnaires measuring the question "Will I be better off' and its four components, Relationship Distress, Quality of Alternatives, Irretrievable Investments, and Subjective Norm, and the question "Can I do it" and its two components, Personal Resources/Barriers, and Structural Resources/Barriers. Multiple regression analyses revealed statistically significant relationship between battered women's intent to return and the constructs Quality of Alternatives and Personal Resources/Barriers. However, logistic regression analyses indicated that the constructs, Structural Investments in Marriage and Structural Resources/Barriers, were predictive of battered women's actual stay/leave behaviors once exiting domestic violence shelters. Findings from this study also indicate that battered women's intent to return to their relationships was a significant predictor in their post-shelter stay/leave behaviors. Recommendations for assessment and intervention with battered women residing in domestic violence shelters are provided.

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