A measure of severe psychological abuse normed on a nationally representative sample of adults

Diane R. Follingstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


A psychological abuse scale representing truly egregious psychological actions that could occur between adult intimate partners was constructed. To insure that the component behaviors would be viewed as highly problematic, the likely malignant intent of the actions was included in item descriptions. Fourteen categories of psychological abuse were devised as relatively independent forms of destructive behaviors, and, within each category, 3 items were devised to represent increasingly severe psychological actions. A nationally representative sample of adults (N = 614) responding to an online survey rated the perceived severity of the 42 aversive behaviors. Reliability and validity indicators, along with descriptive data, are presented. The ratings of the sample basically established the items as egregious in nature, the categories as distinct from each other, and the items within categories as varying in expected directions in terms of severity. Except for gender, demographics had little effect on participants' ratings. Social desirability and dimensions of attachment showed weak relationships with participants' ratings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1194-1214
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • assessment
  • disclosure of domestic violence
  • perceptions of domestic violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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