Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 145–155 | Cite as

Social Context and Violence Exposure as Predictors of Internalizing Symptoms in Mothers and Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

Original Article


Family and social environment may play a part in children’s post-violence adjustment. The goal of this paper is to examine which factors are related to internalizing symptoms in mothers and their children exposed to intimate partner violence. Participants were 208 mothers exposed to domestic violence. Mothers responded using the Conflict Tactics Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, and other standardized scales. They also reported on their children’s internalizing symptoms using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). For the whole group, children’s CBCL scores were related to higher maternal depression and lower maternal self-esteem. Factors determining internalizing in children varied based upon the child’s race. This study illustrates the importance of factors, such as maternal depression, maternal self-esteem, violence exposure, and social support, in determining whether a child exposed to domestic violence develops internalizing symptoms, and that ecological factors may have different effects on children based on race.


Interpersonal violence Complex trauma Domestic violence Child maltreatment Depression Development 



This study was funded by the National Injury Prevention Center, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agency.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no competing interests


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The New School for Social Research, Department of PsychologyNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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