Domestic violence survivors' empowerment and mental health: Exploring the role of the alliance with advocates

Lisa A. Goodman, Jennifer E. Fauci, Cris M. Sullivan, Craig D. DiGiovanni, Joshua M. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Over the last 4 decades, domestic violence (DV) programs-both residential and nonresidential-have sprung up in communities across the country with the aim of helping survivors become safe.These programs place strong emphasis on the relationship between the advocate and survivor ascritical to becoming safer and healing from the trauma of abuse. Yet little research has demonstratedthe extent to which specific aspects of the advocate-survivor alliance are related to specific indicatorsof survivor well-being, nor shown what factors might mediate that relationship. This study exploredin a sample of help-seeking survivors (N = 370) whether the strength of the alliance betweensurvivors and their advocates is related to lower symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stressdisorder (PTSD) and whether this association is mediated by survivors' sense of empowermentin the domain of safety. The structural equation model we tested also controlled for variables thatmight influence these relationships, including race/ethnicity, financial strain, and length of stayin the program. As expected, stronger alliance was associated with reduced symptoms of bothdepression and PTSD, through the mechanism of empowerment in the domain safety. Thesefindings provide direction to programs seeking to establish a theory of change and point the waytoward longitudinal research on the nature and function of the alliance as a potential contributorto healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-296
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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