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IV. Conclusion

The purpose of this review of studies of battered women's MMPI/MMPI-2 scores is to determine whether elevated MMPI/MMPI-2 scores of battered women on the clinical scales represent characterological "traits" or reactive "states." The answer to this question is crucial for battered women litigants in custody cases. Research to date seems to lend more support to the reactive state theory. When tested while domestic violence is ongoing or has just ended, battered women typically exhibit MMPI/MMPI-2 elevations on several clinical scales. However, MMPI/MMPI-2 scores tend to normalize after the abuse ends, as time passes. Additionally, the frequency and severity of the abuse appears to be correlated with the MMPI/MMPI-2 elevations, suggesting that the elevations are caused by the abuse.

As one researcher and her colleagues cautioned, if MMPI/MMPI-2 elevations in battered women are likely to be reactive to the abuse they have suffered, this

raises the question of whether custody evaluations should be carried out with abused women in transition because their acute state of psychological distress may influence an accurate evaluation of their capacity to parent. n100

n100 Khan et al., supra note 30, at 109.

Further research on the issue of MMPI-2 scores of battered women is clearly necessary, and custody evaluators should keep this caution in mind for the sake of the children, who otherwise may be placed in the custody of the men who abused their mothers, with potentially disastrous consequences. n101


n101 A discussion of the dangers posed to children by placement in the custody of parents who are batterers is beyond the scope of this article. See, e.g., BANCROFT & SILVERMAN, supra note 1, at 150-56.


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