Concomitant Exposure to Animal Maltreatment and Socioemotional Adjustment among Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: A Mixed Methods Study

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Graduate School of Social Work


Animal maltreatment, Intimate partner violence, Childhood trauma


This study uses a mixed-methods approach to examine how patterns of exposure to animal maltreatment (AM) are related to socioemotional adjustment among children (N = 291) recruited from intimate partner violence (IPV) services. First, latent profile analysis (LPA) was used to identify subgroups of children with similar patterns of socioemotional functioning. Next, qualitative data from mothers and children were analyzed to identify thematic patterns in AM exposure among two subgroups of children identified through the LPA: Asymptomatic children and children with Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties (EBD). Seven themes were identified. Overall, EBD children, when compared to Asymptomatic children, were more likely to: a) have been exposed to severe forms of violence against animals, b) have experienced direct victimization by an IPV perpetrator following an effort to protect a pet, and c) express justification and normalization of violence against pets. Implications of our findings for research and clinical practice are discussed.

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