This article reports on a study that examined how exposure to parental intimate partner violence (IPV) may relate to mental health during the transition from adolescence to emerging adulthood, and it considered whether the impact of exposure to parental IPV was distinct from more commonly studied maltreatment experiences, specifically neglect and physical abuse.
A large, racially and ethnically diverse sample of adolescents completed a baseline assessment for parental physical IPV exposure and maltreatment, as well as measures for symptoms of depression, posttraumatic stress, and substance use, annually for 6 consecutive years. Mixed-level modeling was used to examine how parental IPV exposure was uniquely associated with different patterns of mental health across developmental epochs. Findings demonstrated a multifaceted relation with mental health. For internalizing symptoms, the effect was pronounced during adolescence, and neglect increased the risk for depression symptomatology. Parental-IPV-exposed adolescents were at increased risk for substance use as they aged into adulthood. Symptom levels and trajectories were independent and distinct from maltreatment experiences. This study illuminates parental IPV exposure's unique influence on well-being during vulnerable developmental periods. It also calls attention to the importance of developing suitable intervention/prevention programs to target this vulnerable population. (publisher abstract modified)