On March 8, 2014, the Public Health Coalition hosted a discussion with Dr. Tami Sullivan, the Director of Family Violence Research and Programs in the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale. Dr. Sullivan researches individual and system-level factors that affect the well being of victims. The discussion centered on the finding that psychological abuse can be a stronger predictor of physical and mental health outcomes than physical or sexual abuse; mediated by post-traumatic stress disorder, intimate partner violence in the form of psychological abuse can lead to substance abuse problems, conceptions of self-efficacy in relationships, and whether or not a victim will seek treatment.
Dr. Sullivan detailed her research of daily occurrences of intimate partner violence with 149 women, which found that psychological abuse is the most prevalent form, at 27%. Indeed, psychological abuse affects more relationships than the extreme cases that are too often portrayed in anti-domestic violence public health campaigns, which tend to fixate on physical violence. Dr. Sullivan asserted that we, as a nation, should work on creating a norm in which psychological abuse is unacceptable, starting with lessons on respect for elementary students, and increasing awareness of dating violence prevention as children mature.