Testing women's propensities to leave their abusive husbands using structural equation modeling

Myunghan Choi, Michael Belyea, Linda R. Phillips, Kathleen Insel, Sung Kil Min

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Many Korean women are just beginning to recognize that what they considered to be normal treatment is actually domestic violence. Many are becoming more intolerant of the abuse and more likely to desire to leave an abusive relationship. Objective: The aim of this study was to test, using the framework of sociostructural and psychological-relational power (PRP), a model of Korean women's propensities to leave their abusive husbands. Methods: Multigroup structural equation modeling was used to test relationships between variables chosen from the sociostructural power and PRP to explain intolerance to abuse. Married Korean women (n = 184) who self-identified as being abused physically, psychologically, sexually, or financially participated in the study. Results: The multigroup analysis revealed that the relationship of abuse and Hwa-Byung (a culture-bound syndrome that denotes Korean women's anger) with intolerance was supported for women with low education (defined as having an education of high school or less: ≤12 years); also for this group, particularly among the younger women, high power was related to high levels of reported abuse and abuse intolerance. For women in the high-education group (education beyond high school: ≥ 13 years), high power was related to abuse, Hwa-Byung, and abuse intolerance; age did not influence power. Overall, the multigroup model adequately fitted the sample data (χ = 92.057, degree of freedom = 50, p = .000; normal fit index = .926, comparative fix index = .964, root mean square error of approximation = .068, Hoelter's critical number = 152), demonstrating that education is a crucial moderator of Korean women's attitude toward the unacceptability of abuse and propensity to terminate the marriage. Discussion: This study found support for a model of abuse intolerance using the framework of sociostructural power and PRP, primarily for the low-education group. Hwa-Byung was a mediating factor that contributed to intolerance to abuse in women with low education. This study highlights the importance of understanding the cultural assumptions that guide Korean women's beliefs and behaviors about abuse intolerance, suggesting that effective intervention programs should be specific to age and education, including a focus on resource availability, which could clarify the variations in Korean women's responses to abuse intolerance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-443
Number of pages9
JournalNursing research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Abuse intolerance
  • Hwa-Byung
  • Married Korean women
  • Structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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