Racial Discrimination, Mental Health Symptoms, and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration in Black Adults

Ana I. Maldonado, Christopher M. Murphy, Maxine Davis, Michele K. Evans, Alan B. Zonderman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: This study had three goals: (a) to examine the association between racial discrimination and intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration; (b) to determine whether this relationship is explained by mental health (MH) symptoms; and (c) to determine whether these associations vary by poverty status or gender. Methods: During the Wave 4 (2013–2017) visit of the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity Longitudinal Study (HANDLS), Black adults who were in a relationship (N = 433; mean age = 55.26, SD = 9.30; 51% men) provided self-report data on IPV perpetration; frequency of racial discrimination; and levels of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Multigroup mediation models used these cross-sectional data to test whether racial discrimination was associated with MH symptoms, which in turn were associated with IPV perpetration, determining the significance of direct and indirect pathways and whether any pathways varied by poverty status or gender. Results: Racial discrimination was associated with more MH symptoms, which in turn was associated with IPV perpetration. The negative effect of discrimination on MH was stronger for Black women than Black men and for Black adults with household incomes below 125% of the Federal poverty line than those with incomes above this cutoff. Discussion: Efforts to prevent and treat IPV in the Black community should address the negative effects of racial discrimination experiences on MH and partner aggression, especially among those with multiple marginalized identities. IPV prevention efforts may be enhanced through an overarching commitment to dismantle structural racism and intersectional forms of oppression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 24 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Black/african american adults
  • Intersectionality
  • Intimate partner violence perpetration
  • Mental health
  • Racial discrimination


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