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Protective Effects of Intimate Partner Relationships on Depressive Symptomatology Among Adult Parents Maltreated as Children

NCJ Number
Journal of Adolescent Health Volume: 57 Issue: 2 Dated: August 2015 Pages: 150-156
Kimberly L. Henry; Terence P. Thornberry; Rosalyn D. Lee
Date Published
August 2015
7 pages
This study examined whether intimate partner relationships in general, and satisfying and stable intimate partner relationships in particular, protect victims of child maltreatment from depressive symptoms during young adulthood.
The study found that relationship characteristics operated as direct protective factors for maltreated and not maltreated individuals. Higher relationship satisfaction and stability were prospectively predictive of less depressive symptomatology. Models of inter- and intra-individual variability were also consistent with significant direct protective effects. Between persons, a more satisfying and stable relationship was associated with fewer depressive symptoms. Periods when an individual moved into a relationship and periods of enhanced satisfaction and stability were associated with fewer depressive symptoms. Relationship satisfaction and stability operated as significant buffering protective factors for the effect of maltreatment on depressive symptoms in most models, suggesting that positive intimate partner relationships may reduce the risk that childhood maltreatment poses for adult depressive symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies safe, stable, and nurturing relationships as key in preventing maltreatment and its consequences. This study adds to the evidence on the protective role of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships by identifying intimate partner relationship factors that may protect parents who were maltreated during childhood from depressive symptoms. Prospective, longitudinal data on 485 parents, 99 maltreated during childhood, were used. Longitudinal multilevel models (12 annual interviews, conducted from 1999 to 2010, nested in individuals) were specified to estimate the effects of relationship characteristics on depressive symptomatology by maltreatment status. (Publisher abstract modified)