Associations Between Perceived Physical Safety, Disengagement, and Trust in a Cohabiting Relationship

Formo, Garrett
Physical violence in cohabiting relationships is prevalent and is associated with mental and physical health problems. Indeed, domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime committed in the United States (NCADV 2015). From 2003-2012, more than one-third of domestic violence cases that occurred between intimate partners were serious violent crimes and 64% were simple assault (U.S. DoJ 2014). Although rates of domestic violence have decreased 67% since the Violence Against Women act was passed in 1994 (NCADV 2015), the fact that serious domestic violence still happens is simply enough to incite moral concern. In the present study, we test whether people who perceive that their partner has endangered their physical safety are more disengaged (e.g., avoidant and withdrawn) during discussions with their partner and have lower trust levels regarding physical safety. Additionally, we will explore the concept of cognitive trickery/bias: how a person can perceive something about their lives that is in reality not true (e.g., "my partner is very supportive of me in my times of need" when in fact, their partner is not); these individuals might be less likely to behave or feel differently about their partner after experiences of physical violence, so we will examine whether individuals' relationship satisfaction moderates the influence of experiences of physical violence with the partner on their tendency to disengage and their trust in their partner and how it, along with understanding the epistemological limitations of testimony, can have an impact on psychological preconceptions regarding these variables.
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