The Role of the Victim–Offender Relationship on Psychological Distress Among Latinx Women: A Betrayal Trauma Perspective

Candence Wills, Carlos A. Cuevas, Chiara Sabina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: The current study expands the knowledge within the betrayal trauma literature by applying this conceptualization to the victimization of Latinx women, a generally understudied minority group in the United States. Under the betrayal trauma framework, this study focuses on the victim and perpetrator relationship of Latinx women to examine trauma-related psychological distress outcomes, including depression, anger, dissociation, and anxiety. Method: Using data from the Sexual Assault Among Latinas Study on 2,000 adult Latinx women in the United States, findings examine the victim–perpetrator relationship of the Latinx women who experienced victimization (n = 870). Ordinary least squares regressions were conducted with the Trauma Symptom Inventory scales of depression, anger, dissociation, and anxiety as the dependent variables, resulting in four regression models. A sequential regression including the interaction terms was then completed for each of the TSI scale outcomes to account for possible moderation between cultural variables and victim–perpetrator relationships. Results: Linear models show that childhood betrayal trauma and total victimization significantly associate with greater psychological distress, including depression, anger, dissociation, and anxiety. Interactions effects were significant for anxiety, showing a stronger relationship between childhood family–perpetrated victimization for highly enculturated women while the opposite was found for family-perpetrated victimization in adulthood where low-enculturated women had a stronger relationship to anxiety. Conclusion: The study findings support the betrayal trauma theory among Latinx women by showing that the closeness in relationship between the victim and the perpetrator for childhood victimization was associated with greater psychological distress above and beyond the impact of other perpetrator–victim relationships. This effect remained significant even when accounting for the total lifetime victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


  • Acculturation
  • Betrayal trauma
  • Childhood victimization
  • Latinx women
  • Victim–offender relationship


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