PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE
Linda L. Marshall
University of North Texas
Perhaps the darkest side of communication is evident when physical violence or psychological abuse occurs. Unfortunately, these forms of communication are all too common in intimate relationships. Vangelisti's chapter (this volume), showing that hurtful messages are remembered for a long time, suggests that a one-time, overtly hurtful message may have some type of long-term effect on the target. Violence and verbal aggressiveness, which are overtly hurtful messages, usually occur more than once and have implications of immediate and long-term harm to the target.
Although investigators usually examine physical violence in the context of conflict, with few exceptions (e.g., deTurck, 1985, 1987; Infante, Chandler, & Rudd, 1989; Spitzberg & Marshall, 1990, 1991) they have not explicitly conceptualized violence as a type of communication or influence. However, some investigators have implicitly begun to take a communication perspective by examining communication and relational variables in couples who have and have not experienced violence. Adoption of a similar perspective facilitated a new approach to psychological abuse described in this chapter, which is broader than the dominance and verbal aggression perspectives usually used.
Little attention has been paid to psychological abuse, even though the body of research on physical violence in adult dating, cohabiting, and marital relationships is very large. This author's files contain more than 1,200 articles and chapters, approximately two-thirds of which report or review violence research. Until about 10 years ago, research on violence was sparse, which is the current state of affairs for knowledge about psychological abuse.