Honors Projects


Intimate partner violence has been shown to have serious mental, physical, and emotional consequences for both men and women. Past research has considered low self-esteem as a risk factor, outcome, and moderator of abuse; however, less is known about whether self-esteem influences abuse perception. This study sought to examine the relationships between self-esteem, gender, and type of abuse in college students’ perceptions of abuse. The sample consisted of 207 undergraduate students (140 female, 64 male, and 3 preferred not to answer) between the age of 18-23 years (M= 19.7, SD= 2.4). The procedure included an Abusive Scenarios Survey, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and a personal and demographic history survey. Participants perceived situations as more abusive when the abuser was male (M= 7.1; SD= 1.4) than when it was female (M= 6.8, SD= 1.5, t(206)= 7.78, p<.05). Participants rated physical (M= 8.3, SD= 1.5) abuse as more abusive than sexual, verbal, emotional, and economic abuse (respectively M= 7.2, 6.5, 6.8, 5.8, SD= 1.7, 1.7, 1.7, 1.6, t(206)= 12.61, 19.24, 16.08, 24.25, p<.05). There was no significant correlation between level of self-esteem and perception of abuse. These results have implications for working with survivors of abuse as well as implementing prevention programs with college students.





First Advisor

Dr. Dara Musher-Eizenman

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad

Second Advisor Department


Publication Date

Spring 4-23-2017