Abuse is often associated with diminished social support networks, which typically serve to buffer individuals against stress-related outcomes, including eating disorders. The goal of the present study was to examine whether eating disturbances among women in abusive dating relationships varied as function of perceived social support. Although both physical and psychological aggression in women's (N=83) dating relationships was associated with symptomatic dieting and bulimic symptoms, only psychological aggression predicted unique variance. Although psychological aggression was directly related to eating symptoms, support from friends diminished the relation to bulimic symptoms, possibly because such support facilitated women's ability to distract themselves from their abusive situations. In contrast, perceived parental support buffered women in physically abusive relationships from disturbed eating patterns. Thus, depending on the nature of abuse women experienced, social support resources were differentially effective in buffering women from eating disturbances.

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Sex Roles
Department of Psychology

Skomorovsky, A. (Alla), Matheson, K, & Anisman, H. (2006). The buffering role of social support perceptions in relation to eating disturbances among women in abusive dating relationships. Sex Roles, 54(9-10), 627–638. doi:10.1007/s11199-006-9030-2