Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sarah Cook, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Martha Foster, Ph.D

Third Advisor

Nadine Kaslow, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Julia Perilla, Ph.D.


Women’s use of aggression in intimate partner relationships is consistently debated by researchers of intimate partner aggression. One tenet suggests women use aggression within intimate relationships at similar rates as men. Conversely, a second tenet acknowledges women’s use of aggression but suggests that the meaning and consequences associated with women’s aggression is not coercive or severely injurious, which are typical characteristics of men’s use of aggression. The current study evaluated incarcerated women in order to build upon an integrative approach that suggests that women’s use of aggression is related to the relationship dynamics generated from variations in coercive and conflictual behaviors. Further, the current study evaluated the moderating relation of childhood abuse history and posttraumatic stress symptoms between relationship dynamics and women’s use of aggression. Ninety-six women, who participated in a larger research project that investigated incarcerated women’s life experience, reported on the dynamics of their most recent abusive heterosexual relationship, their own use of aggression (minor and severe) and childhood abuse history and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Findings suggest that incarcerated women involved in intimate relationships characterized as highly conflictual use significantly more minor and severe aggression toward their partners than women involved in relationships with low levels of conflicts. The finding is significant regardless of the level of coercion present in the relationship. Lastly, neither childhood abuse history nor posttraumatic symptoms moderated the relation between intimate partner relationship dynamics and women’s use of aggression. Various reasons for the lack of support for the moderating effect of history on women’s use of aggression are discussed.


Included in

Psychology Commons