Mechanisms underlying exposure to partner violence and children’s emotional-behavioral difficulties. Academic Article uri icon


  • Intimate partner violence (IPV) between parents can have a serious impact on children's health, well-being, and development. This study aimed to investigate the longitudinal associations between exposure to IPV in the first year postpartum and children's emotional-behavioral well-being at age 10 years, where maternal depressive symptoms and involvement in home learning activities at 4 years mediate this relationship. A second aim was to test for the moderating effects of child gender and economic disadvantage. Data were drawn from 1,385 Australian mothers and children participating in the Maternal Health Study; a prospective longitudinal study of women's health after childbirth. Results revealed that IPV in the first year postpartum was associated with higher maternal depressive symptoms at 4 years postpartum, which was, in turn, associated with children's emotional-behavioral difficulties at age 10 years. These associations remained significant after adjusting for concurrent exposure to IPV and maternal depressive symptoms at 10 years. There was no evidence of moderation by child gender, but there was for economic disadvantage. The associations between early life exposure to IPV, maternal depressive symptoms, and children's emotional-behavioral difficulties were stronger for families experiencing economic disadvantage, while the associations between IPV, maternal involvement, and children's emotional-behavioral difficulties were stronger for those not experiencing disadvantage. These findings can inform prevention and early intervention practices and policies aimed at providing adequate mental health support to women experiencing IPV to minimize the negative impact on children. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).


publication date

  • 2019