Measuring Abusive Behaviors: Is Economic Abuse a Unique Form of Abuse?
Research Question: Is economic abuse a unique form of abuse or just a subset of psychological abuse? To answer this question, this paper will present the results of multiple confirmatory factor analyses of the Abuse Behavior Inventory and the Scale of Economic Abuse-12 .
Methods: This study is part of a larger experimental study that measured the impact of an economic empowerment program on the lives of IPV survivors. Participants were recruited from 14 domestic violence programs across 10 states and Puerto Rico with 457 participants completing a face-to-face interview.
Measures: The Scale of Economic Abuse-12 (SEA-12) is a 12-item scale that asks participants how often a partner exhibited financially abusive behaviors. Physical, psychological and sexual violence was assessed using the Abusive Behavior Index (ABI) (Shepard & Campbell, 1992).
Results: Four confirmatory factor models were run to examine the factor structure of the items measuring psychological, physical, sexual and economic abuse. The first model consisted of two factors representing psychological abuse and physical violence (with economic abuse included in psychological abuse indicators and sexual violence included in physical violence indicators). The results for this model indicated a poor fit (χ2=4368.06, df=818; CFI=.691, TLI=.675, RMSEA=.098). The second model consisted of three factors representing psychological abuse, physical violence and sexual violence. These results indicated a moderate fit (χ2=3940.79, df=816; CFI=.728, TLI=.713, RMSEA=.092). A chi-square difference test was run between the 2-Factor Model and the 3-Factor Model to compare the models and the 3-Factor Model was a significantly better fit with the data (χ2 difference=427.27, df = 2, p<.001). The third model consisted of four factors representing psychological abuse, physical violence, sexual violence and economic abuse. Results also indicated a moderate fit (χ2=3511.91, df=813; CFI=.765, TLI=.751, RMSEA=.085). A chi-square difference test was run between the 3-Factor Model and the 4-Factor Model and the 4-Factor Model was a significantly better fit (χ2 difference=428.88, df = 3, p<.001). The fourth model consisted of six factors representing psychological abuse, physical violence, sexual violence, economic control, employment sabotage and economic exploitation. Results indicated a moderately good fit (χ2=2770.15, df=804; CFI=.829, TLI=.817, RMSEA=.073). A chi-square difference test was run between the 4-Factor Model and the 6-Factor Model and the 6-Factor Model was a significantly better fit (χ2 difference=741.76, df= 9, p<.001).
Conclusion: The results from this study indicated that the three forms economic abuse are indeed unique and distinct constructs. This emphasizes the need for practitioners and researchers to better identify and understand the types of economic abuse, its many manifestations, and its implications for survivors.