Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science

Dissertation Committee

Mary P. Quayhagen, DNSc, RN, FAAN, Chairperson; Mary Ann Hautman, PhD, RN; Patricia W. Anderson, PhD


Domestic abuse, nursing, Reformulated Learned Helplessness Theory, women


Despite the fact that domestic violence has been the focus of empirical investigation for more than twenty years, little is known about the phenomenon. While the available body of knowledge provides a sketchy picture of the abused woman and her abuser, and helps to dispel many of the myths surrounding spousal abuse, it provides very little insight into the dynamics of wife abuse. This study, based upon a foundation of the Reformulated Learned Helplessness Theory, was designed to explore the nature of the relationships among concepts that have been identified within the context of battering, and that were thought to influence battered women's responses to violence. A causal model approach was used to investigate the influence of battering, attribution style, self-esteem estimate and perception of helplessness on battered women's perception of controllability of violence in intimate relationships. The theoretical model explained factors influencing perception of controllability of violence. An examination of the study results by hypothesis indicated that three of the four research hypotheses concerning direct effects were completely supported, and that the fourth one received partial support. Battering, attribution style, self-esteem estimates, and helplessness accounted for 23% (F 8.45, p <.001) of the variance in internal/cognitive controllability and 28% (F 10.84, p <.001) of variance in behavioral controllability with battering exerting the greatest influence on both controllability outcome (-.33 and -.47 respectively). Given the study findings, emphasis for therapeutic strategy development includes environmental enrichment, attribution retraining, and internal control skill development.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons