This essay stresses that surprisingly, and in contrast to previous research on women residing in domestic violence shelters, emotional support was not a significant predictor of mental health when severity of violence was controlled. Practical aid, however, predicted both anxiety and self-esteem. This finding is consistent with the only shelter study that compared emotional and practical supports.
This paper makes a conclusion that there are several important intervention implications from this study. First, critical support plays a key role in the mental health of women who have violent partners. Thus, support for women in violent relationships must avoid criticism of their lives and decisions. Clearly, the ability to talk about the abuse in an empathic, non-critical environment is an important key to positive mental health for these women. Because homophily was related to criticism in this study, it may be that advocates, rather than homophilous peer support groups, provide the most effective interventions. In addition, practical aid, rather than emotional support, was related to positive mental health. Thus, concrete assistance with daily life hassles and challenges should be a high priority for agencies serving battered women. Finally, the positive relationship between nonhomophilous supporters and mental health suggests that agencies might assist battered women in locating new sources of support in order to develop a social network composed of more women who have not been battered