This study investigated psychological distress as measured by the Impact of Events Scale-Revised and physiological reactivity as measured by skin conductance and heart rate in bystanders as compared to direct victims of prevalent forms of repetitive abuse (e.g., bullying). Participants (N = 77) were interviewed twice: once to recall witnessing another person be abused repeatedly over time, and again to recall similar experiences as a victim. Present levels for bystander and victim distress were not significantly different, but distress levels were significantly greater for victim experiences at the time the repetitive abuse occurred. Scores for both groups were comparable to or exceeded scores associated with natural disasters and other life threatening experiences reported in the literature. Findings suggest repetitive abuse may affect bystanders and victims in similarly serious ways at the time the events occur and later in life.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Health(social science)