Child abuse and neglect and intimate partner violence victimization and perpetration: a prospective investigation

Cathy Spatz Widom, Sally Czaja, Mary Ann Dutton
Child Abuse & Neglect 2014, 38 (4): 650-63
This paper describes the extent to which abused and neglected children report intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization and perpetration when followed up into middle adulthood. Using data from a prospective cohort design study, children (ages 0-11) with documented histories of physical and sexual abuse and/or neglect (n=497) were matched with children without such histories (n=395) and assessed in adulthood (Mage=39.5). Prevalence, number, and variety of four types of IPV (psychological abuse, physical violence, sexual violence, and injury) were measured. Over 80% of both groups - childhood abuse and neglect (CAN) and controls - reported some form of IPV victimization during the past year (most commonly psychological abuse) and about 75% of both groups reported perpetration of IPV toward their partner. Controlling for age, sex, and race, overall CAN [adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=1.60, 95% CI [1.03, 2.49]], physical abuse (AOR=2.52, 95% CI [1.17, 5.40]), and neglect (AOR=1.64, 95% CI [1.04, 2.59]) predicted increased risk for being victimized by a partner via physical injury. CAN and neglect also predicted being victimized by a greater number and variety of IPV acts. CAN and control groups did not differ in reports of perpetration of IPV, although neglect predicted greater likelihood of perpetrating physical injury to a partner, compared to controls. Abused/neglected females were more likely to report being injured by their partner, whereas maltreated males did not. This study found that child maltreatment increases risk for the most serious form of IPV involving physical injury. Increased attention should be paid to IPV (victimization and perpetration) in individuals with histories of neglect.

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