Methods: This study utilizes data collected during a longitudinal, randomized control study evaluating the impact of a financial literacy program with IPV survivors from seven states in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. This study only included women who completed the first interview (n=456). Variables of interest were measured by validated scales, including the Scale of Economic Abuse-12 (Postmus, Plummer, and Stylianou, 2016; α=0.89), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977; α=0.81), and the Financial Strain Scale (Aldana & Liljenquist, 1998; α=0.84). Sociodemographic characteristics included ethnicity, age, born in the US, having children under 18, and annual income over 10,000. Multiple regression models were performed to examine the mediator effect of financial strain.
Results: Three regression models indicated that financial strain mediated the relationship between economic abuse and depression among IPV female survivors. Following Barron and Kenny (1986), the understandardized regression coefficient of economic abuse on depression dropped from 0.198 to 0.023 and became insignificant when financial strain was included. The power of the meditational test was also maximized. As studies have not tested the significance of the mediated effect (Frazier, Tix, & Barron, 2004), the test result of this study was significant (19.82, p< .05), confirming financial strain as a significant mediator. Female IPV survivors who experience economic abuse have higher levels of depression due to the higher levels of financial strain, which in turn leads to higher levels of depression.
Implications: This study supports the evidence that financial strain is a prominent indicator of depression for those who experience economic abuse. The vicious cycle results in economic inequality among IPV female survivors. Practitioners and advocates should address all these components to break the cycle and develop interventions to decrease financial strain to reduce depression. Policy makers need to develop regulations to reduce economic inequality for IPV survivors.