Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

16453 Military-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Relationships: Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan

Thursday, January 12, 2012: 3:30 PM
Wilson (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
April Gerlock, PhD, Research Scientist, Veterans Affairs - Puget Sound Health Care System, Tacoma, WA
Background and Purpose: The impact of war zone deployments on relationships and families is well recognized. In addition to the long periods of separation, shifting of roles, financial stress, and the concern that a loved-one will be wounded or killed; many families face the reality that their family member has returned home changed in other ways. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates around 44% of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have psychological conditions. Some of these veterans have major mental health disorders like depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Additionally, veterans seeking care at VA Deployment Health Clinics have reported high rates of relationship problems, physically assaulting an intimate partner, and mild to moderate levels of intimate partner violence (IPV). Historically, war zone related PTSD has been significantly correlated with IPV perpetration. Methods: The Relationship and PTSD Study: Detection of Intimate Partner Violence is a four-year federally funded grant examining the intersection of war zone-related PTSD and IVP perpetration. The study looks at relationship behaviors, PTSD, and the detection of intimate partner violence across the veteran's lifespan. Over 400 veteran/partner dyads, randomly selected from the PTSD treatment programs at VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the Tacoma Vet Center, participated in structured interviews and completed paper and pencil instruments. Discriminant analyses and logistic regression were used to determine relationships among PTSD severity, relationship mutuality, early IPV exposure, substance abuse, and providers' detection of IPV. Results Just under half - 43.5% - of couples interviewed reported IPV, where 56.5% denied IPV. The sample is represented by a span of PTSD treatment ranging from 1-432 months (36 years) and an age ranging from 23-83 y/o. 96.5% of the sample served in the war zone. Updated aggregate data on deployments and relationship break-ups, intimate partner violence perpetration severity for those veterans who have been intimately violent, and behaviors that support mutuality and respect and couple resiliency in the face of multiple deployments will be presented with data analyses underway at time of abstract submission. Conclusions and Implications: Results suggest at least 3 important implications for care providers of active duty military personnel and military Veterans: (1) Persons caring for active duty military and military Veterans should know how to screen for both IPV perpetration and victimization, and understand the difference between PTSD, post-deployment readjustment & IPV. (2) When IPV victimization or perpetration is identified, it takes both provider-level, and system level understanding and response to create a safety net for military families. (3) Families need education about post-deployment readjustment, but it is the service member's responsibility to stop all abusive and violent behavior.
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