This study examined the relations among women’s experiences of abuse, forgiveness, revenge, psychological health, and physiological stress reactivity. Both dispositional (Study 1; N = 103) and state (Study 2; N = 258) forgiveness and vengeance were associated with psychological symptoms. However, the relation between revenge and greater depression was magnified among psychologically abused women, whereas—unexpectedly—the positive link between forgiveness and psychological health was strengthened among physically abused women. Moreover, while revenge coincided with increased cortisol reactivity following any relationship conflict, this was only evident for forgiveness following physical abuse. The complex interactions among these variables are discussed within a stress and coping framework.

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Keywords abuse, cortisol, depressive symptoms, forgiveness, revenge
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Journal Journal of Health Psychology
Ysseldyk, R, Matheson, K. (Kimberly), & Anisman, H. (2017). Revenge is sour, but is forgiveness sweet? Psychological health and cortisol reactivity among women with experiences of abuse. Journal of Health Psychology. doi:10.1177/1359105317714319