Drawing on theory from the literature on close relationships and on stress and coping, this study examines the ways women cope with physical and emotional abuse while remaining with abusive partners. 130 women (22–67 yrs old) who had experienced conflict and violence in a close relationship with a man completed questionnaires assessing characteristics of the abuse, positive aspects of the relationship, the use of downward comparisons, and attributions for positive behaviors and for the abuse. 44 women (34.4%) were still involved in the abusive relationship; 86 (65.6%) were no longer involved with their abusive partner. Results of discriminant function analysis suggest that women who remain with abusive partners employ cognitive strategies that help them perceive the relationship in a positive light. For women still involved with their abusive partner this positive relationship appraisal is unrelated to whether or not they have left their partners in the past. Moreover, it is unrelated to the frequency of moderate or severe physical abuse, but appears less likely the more frequently verbal abuse is experienced. Also, women still involved with their abusive partners are not differentiated from those no longer involved in terms of their level of psychosocial adjustment
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