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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Non-suicidal self-injury in unidirectional and bidirectional intimate partner violence Blanco Carranza, Amanda


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and intimate partner violence (IPV) are prevalent among college students. Prior studies have identified associations between NSSI and IPV, but have focused mainly on victims, and have not considered directionality of IPV (unidirectional vs. bidirectional). The present research is the first to examine directionality of violence in the association between NSSI and IPV. This study also examined the functions of NSSI, which have not been examined before in this context, and further examined the potential mediating role of emotion dysregulation, as it has been suggested that this factor may underlie both NSSI and IPV perpetration. Data on IPV, NSSI, and emotion dysregulation were collected for 1018 participants, who were then classified into four groups: unidirectional perpetrators, unidirectional victims, bidirectional IPV, and non-violent. Findings indicated that being in a violent relationship increased the likelihood of NSSI, especially in the case of unidirectional perpetrators and individuals that engaged in bidirectional IPV. Intrapersonal NSSI functions were equivalent across groups, whereas the interpersonal functions of revenge and peer-bonding were more highly endorsed by individuals who engaged in bidirectional IPV. The study findings suggest that the association between IPV and NSSI may be understood in terms of generally violent relationships rather than as a distinct consequence of victimization. Findings indicate that NSSI serves primarily to alter or regulate emotional states, and may serve also as a form of communication among mutually violent couples. Individuals with NSSI in all the groups exhibited higher levels of emotion dysregulation than their counterparts without NSSI, except for unidirectional perpetrators. Emotion dysregulation accounted for a significant amount of the relationship between NSSI and bidirectional IPV, providing further support for the importance of this construct in understanding both NSSI and IPV. Implications are discussed from theoretical, methodological, and clinical perspectives.

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