Date of Award
Graduate School of Social Work
Developmental psychology, Intimate partner violence
A substantial body of literature documents that exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) in childhood is associated with a host of negative developmental consequences. Research in this area has also identified several interconnected risk and protective factors that contribute to heterogeneity in adjustment among children exposed to IPV. To date, few studies have applied person-centered frameworks to empirically examine patterns of risk, protection, and resilience in this population. Using person-centered statistical techniques, the current research aimed to (a) advance knowledge of patterns of socioemotional functioning among children exposed to IPV, (b) extend knowledge of risk and protective factors among children exposed to IPV, and (c) explore differential effects of risk and protective factors on psychosocial outcomes among children exposed to IPV. Participants included 291 maternal caregiver-child dyads recruited from 22 community-based domestic violence agencies. Study results identified three latent profiles of socioemotional functioning among children in the sample that differed in patterns of attention problems, social problems, internalizing and externalizing behaviors, empathy and callous/unemotional traits. Latino ethnicity, multi-racial/ethnic identity, exposure to animal cruelty, and the child’s relationship to the abusive partner emerged as predictors that significantly distinguished between children with resilient (66%), struggling (28%), and severely maladjusted (6%) patterns of adjustment. Results also identified five distinct profiles of risk, protection, and resilience among children in the sample that were differentiated by diverging patterns of developmental competence and frequency of exposure to IPV. Yearly household income, maternal education, number of children in the household, and the child’s relationship to the abusive partner were significantly associated with risk/protection profile membership. Finally, three latent classes that differed in the effects of severity of IPV exposure, yearly household income, and number of children in the household on internalizing and externalizing behavior problems and posttraumatic stress symptoms were identified and labeled as follows: maladjusted children with moderate sensitivity to the family environment (24%), highly maladjusted children with high sensitivity to the family environment (10%), and asymptomatic children with low sensitivity to the family environment (69%). Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for future research, assessment, and adaptive interventions for families experiencing IPV.
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Shelby Elaine McDonald
Received from author
McDonald, Shelby Elaine, "Profiles of Risk, Protection, and Socioemotional Adjustment Among Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: A Person-Centered Approach" (2015). Restricted Access ETDs. 70.