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Intimate Partner Violence and Child Maltreatment: Understanding Intra- and Intergenerational Connections

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 30 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2006 Pages: 599-617
Lynette M. Renner; Kristen Shook Slack
Date Published
June 2006
19 pages
This study assessed the extent to which adult women victims of intimate partner violence had experienced various forms of maltreatment as children, as well as the extent to which their abuse as children was related to their abuse of their own children in adulthood.
The study found that physical abuse during childhood was moderately correlated with sexual abuse, neglect, and the witnessing of intimate partner violence during childhood. It also found that women with childhood histories of physical abuse were more likely than women without such childhood histories to have children at risk for physical harm; however, childhood histories of family violence predicted maltreatment of one's own children only for women who had also experienced intimate partner violence during adulthood. Further, a childhood history of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or exposure to intimate partner violence predicted involvement in a physically violent relationship in adulthood. Although this study did not provide clear support for the direct intergenerational transmission of child physical abuse, there was evidence to support learned helplessness among victims of childhood physical abuse, which in turn placed such victims at risk of abuse in intimate partner relationships as adults. Data were drawn from an ongoing longitudinal study, the Illinois Families Study (IFS), which tracked families who were receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in 1998. The IFS involves five waves of survey data collection. The current study used data from the first three waves (1999, 2001, and 2002). The waves involved 1,363, 1,183, and 1,072 respondents, respectively. In addition to survey data, administrative data were obtained from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services regarding investigated child maltreatment reports from January 1980 through June 2002. Data were obtained from adult women regarding their experiences with intimate partner violence and child maltreatment in childhood (victim) and adulthood (perpetrator). 5 tables and 74 references