Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology, Applied

First Advisor

Stephanie W. Hartwell

Second Advisor

Keith G. Bentele

Third Advisor

Melissa S. Morabito


Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a public health issue defined as "a constellation of abusive and controlling behaviors including psychological abuse, isolation, threats, stalking, and physical violence that taken together create a climate of fear and intimidation that maintain one partner in a position of domination and control with the other partner in a position of subordination and compliance" (Family Violence Prevention Fund 2004; Campbell 2002). The current study was carried out at the University of Massachusetts at Boston (UMB), and explores the relationship between being a victim of IPV, self-esteem, and stigma across gender and other characteristics. Approximately 250 male and female undergraduate students responded to a survey examining attitudes about abuse in an intimate partnership after reading an IPV vignette where they are depicted as a victim of IPV. Respondents answered questions about self-esteem and stigma after imagining themselves as an IPV victim. The findings from the study suggest that male respondents report significantly higher levels of self-esteem and lower levels of perceived stigma than the female respondents. The results also suggest that income, race, and setting of upbringing influence respondents' previous knowledge of IPV. This study offers some insight to gender differences in self-esteem and stigma as they relate to all victims of IPV.