Young stated that the maladaptive schemes stay silent until they are activated by an external act. Owing to this fact, an answer to the cognitive model is that the violence against women would result in the activation of dysfunctional schemes within them 8. The results of the present study showed that women victims of both physical and non-physical violence show a higher level of activation of early maladaptive schemas. This is in line with an earlier research in Iran that revealed a close relationship between all fields of women's early maladaptive schemes and the extent of domestic violence against them 8.
EMSs occur in early childhood or adolescence when basic emotional needs are not met in main interactions. They serve as reality-based representations of the surroundings of the individual. Although not all EMSs are products of maltreatment, they are reliably damaging and caused by deleterious events that constantly repeat themselves during childhood and adolescence 26. According to Cottraux, childhood exposure to domestic violence improves the probability of violent intimate interactions in adulthood. A child, having a background of domestic violence, grows up in an insecure environment 10.
There are several schema domains according to the model, depending on the need of the child that caregivers have not properly satisfied 8. They can incorporate the use of violent behavior as a means of conflict resolution and trap the topic in a victim and/or perpetrator situation 10. Due to the human need for consistency, maladaptive schemes fight for survival. In fact, in an effort to cope with their schemes and prevent the adverse feelings they produce, individuals embrace inappropriate coping styles that brings to the schemes ' perpetuation 6. For this purpose, individuals with self-damaging models are engaged in interactions, circumstances and inattentive decisions that stimulate and stabilize the schema and prevent interactions that lead to schema regeneration 8.
Among the eighteen schemas, eight schemas were associated with violence against women. The best domains relevant to victimization are the disconnection/rejection and the impaired autonomy domains. An earlier research conducted by Estevez et al revealed a positive association between VAW and the 5 EMSs with higher rations of the disconnection/rejection and the impaired autonomy domains 9,11. The disconnection/rejection domain involves schemes which indicate that one's safety, empathy, nurturance, recognition and respect needs will not be met 27. Three schemas were found to be associated with violence: first, the emotional deprivation schema in which a women sense that other individuals are unable to provide the love and care she needs, may join cold and abusive individuals with little affection; the second one is the defectiveness schema in which a women have expectations of being rejected and abused by others could result in women appearing weak and becoming a more probable target of abuse in intimate relations ; the third one is social isolation schema in which a women feel isolated from other people 6. The disconnection and rejection domain can explain some of the alterations in psychological and physical violence from the domestic violence aspects 8. In this way, it is suggested by Calvete et al that childhood victimization contributes to the growth of schemes of this domain and, in turn, increases the likelihood of future victimization because schemes can be perpetuated by choosing abusive partners, targeting abusive partners or remaining in abusive relationships 6.
In addition, impaired autonomy schemas can explain domestic violence considerably and can predict the amount of violence against women 11. The impaired autonomy and performance domain involves schemes that involve an adverse perspective of one's capacity to succeed or operate independently of others 27. Two schemas were found correlated under this domain: The failure scheme in which women who are abused have a damaged concept of themselves, their self-esteem can become extremely negative, increasing thus the risk of activating this scheme. Also, the dependency scheme in which women find themselves helpless and unable to manage their own circumstances 10. Authors such as Barnett have observed that when a victim suffers from their partner's extended experience of abuse, their ideas about themselves and self-esteem may become highly negative, increasing the danger of depression 9. Abused women, whose schemes are in this domain, are relying economically on their husbands which leads them to feel deprived of that personal source needed to fix the issue and operate separately 11. Based on this context, a previous study stated that there is a link between abuse of one's own spouse and some of the special schemes of impaired autonomy and function, such as low self-efficacy, which limits the ability of individuals to break off the violent relationship 8.
We found two schemas under the other-directedness domain was correlated with IPV: The subjugation schema in which the abused women becomes concerned with their partner's needs and desires by avoiding anything that can lead to an outburst for the controlling person 28; The approval seeking schema in which women desire to gain approval, attention from her husband at the cost of creating a secure and true sense of self 29.
And the last schema was the unrelenting standards schema under the domain of overvigilance and inhibition in which women have to strive continuously to fulfill elevated internalized behavioral norms. They face intense pressure to perform well, leading to intense anxiety about the likelihood of not living up to their internalized norms 30. These 3 schemes are connected with VAW, but to our knowledge this association has not been studied by any prior research. Further studies are needed in this light to evaluate this association and assess the role of these schemes in violence against women.
Furthermore, we cannot disregard the context in which women are abused. This context involves patriarchal attitudes about women's inferiority and men's right to guide women. Traditional gender beliefs could generate the situation where it would be easier for women to incorporate maladaptive schemes composed of negative self-worth and expectations of abuse. Cultural elements such as gender roles and women's inferiority in culture could therefore make women more susceptible to developing maladaptive schemes when subjected to violence 6.
On top of that, the background, education, family and socio-cultural environment in which an individual grew up distinguishes each partner. All of these factors introduce many aspects affecting these essential choices of life, especially the choice of a partner 10. Some studies have been investigating the connection between VAW and impulsive behaviors such as substance abuse, alcohol abuse and gambling. A research in Iran showed that there was a considerably greater rate of violence among women with addicted spouses than among women with non-addicted spouses. Impulsivity, instability, bad self-esteem and lack of problem-solving abilities are the defining features of people attempting to intimidate their wives. These characteristics are significantly greater among addicts and then the level of violence in their homes would increase 31. Our findings also proposed that low levels of violence are associated with high level of education and this is in line with previous literature. Women with higher education were more likely to be more independent and probably did not accept the mistreatment of their partners 7.
We also discovered that high non-physical violence is associated with having a preoccupied attachment style. This is in line with prior research, which revealed that people involved with an adverse self-model actively seek permission from others to validate their fragile feeling of self-worth and are expected to experience elevated rates of anger in close relationships and subsequently violence 32.
High levels of physical and non-physical violence was found correlated with high level of PTSD. This is consistent with prior research suggesting a sevenfold rise in the probability of PTSD among women experiencing violence and abuse 33. PTSD is associated with a low level of optimism, an important factor that is known to serve both as a barrier against negative influences of violence and as a survival enhancer. Another possible explanation can be found in the PTSD-typical negative self-assessments observed among traumatized victims of violence. Negative self-assessment can be seen in poor maintenance of health and poor prevention of abusive behaviors 34.
Despite the limitations, this research disclosed significant results that encouraged further exploration of early maladaptive schemes in battered women. And identifying the factors that enhance the activation of these schemes will assist to treat these schemes and mitigate their impacts. Further studies might therefore assist to better comprehend these schemes and thus better comprehend how they are connected with VAW. Further studies exploring the EMS of the partner and how they are connected to the women’s schemas would be a significant way to better assess the connection that combined this couple.
This study also has some limitations. Since it is a cross-sectional study, it is not possible to establish the temporal sequence of events. In this light, we cannot understand whether the activation of the dysfunctional schemas is caused by a childhood event or by intimate partner violence alone. In addition, all evaluations were based on respondents' self-reports and are likely to be underestimated or overestimated which could lead to information bias. In addition, not all scales are validated among the Lebanese population.