"Stick and stones hurt my bones but his glance and words hurt more". The impact of emotional and physical violence by current and former partners in Italian battered women.
Domestic violence causes short- and long-term negative consequences, both physical (e.g., bodily injury) and psychological (e.g., depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder). It is possible that these negative consequences vary according to the type of violence victims experience (physical versus psychological) and its duration, as well as the relationship with the offender. The present study investigated the relative contribution of psychological and physical abuse to the development of psychological symptoms in domestic violence cases. A sample of 145 women recruited from three shelters in Rome completed a face-to-face interview and a structured questionnaire measuring different types of abuse and psychological symptoms, as well as demographic variables. Multiple regression analyses revealed that psychological abuse was a stronger predictor of anxiety and depression, low self esteem, and intrusion/ avoidance symptoms than physical abuse, even though psychological and physical abuse experiences were highly correlated. Psychological symptoms were not associated with who committed the violence (husband or cohabiting partner) or whether the relationship was terminated or still ongoing. These findings have implications for mental health professionals who try to reduce the suffering of women who are abused.