Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Kristina Coop Gordon

Committee Members

Deborah L. Rhatigan, Deborah P. Welsh


Various empirically validated theories have explained the phenomenon of women in abusive relationships engaging in a repeated leave/return cycle when trying to terminate the relationship. The current study was designed to add to the already existing theories that focus on factors constraining women to stay in abusive relationships by evaluating the relationship between traumatic bond, forgiveness, and intention to return to the abusive relationship, and by evaluating the relationship between traumatic bond, attachment to abusive partner, and intention to return. The current sample consisted of 121 women residing in both urban and rural emergency domestic violence shelters. Forgiveness was found to partially mediate the relationship between traumatic bond and intention to return, and traumatic bond mediated the relationship between preoccupied attachment to the abusive partner and intention to return to the abusive relationship. These findings suggest that in this specific population it is important to not only address constraint variables (e.g., income, employment, child care, etc.), but to also address variables regarding the individual‟s emotional attachment to the relationship. Addressing these variables could be important new and additional points of intervention for women living in emergency domestic violence shelters.

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Psychology Commons