The Effects of Intimate Partner Violence on the Early Caregiving System

  • Alytia A. LevendoskyEmail author
  • G. Anne Bogat
  • Nicola Bernard
  • Antonia Garcia
Part of the Integrating Psychiatry and Primary Care book series (IPPC)


This chapter reviews the effects of intimate partner violence (IPV: defined here as male physical, psychological and/or sexual violence towards his female partner) on the early mother-child relationship, beginning during pregnancy and through the first few years postpartum. Attachment theory is used to explain the mechanisms through which IPV affects the mother-child relationship. Extant research has documented the significant toll that IPV takes on women’s physical and mental health. IPV and its consequent mental health effects may impair women’s parenting beginning in utero as women develop maternal representations of the baby and herself as mother. These representations are found to influence parenting behavior during infancy. Infants develop internal working models of attachment based on the parenting behaviors they experience. Thus, when IPV affects parenting, it can influence the kind of attachment relationship between the mother and child, laying the groundwork for the child for future significant relationships. In addition, poor attachment quality is associated with poor emotional self-regulation leading to behavioral problems in children. Thus, we conclude that targeted interventions for mothers and children exposed to IPV are critical for intervening in this intergenerational cycle of violence.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alytia A. Levendosky
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. Anne Bogat
    • 1
  • Nicola Bernard
    • 1
  • Antonia Garcia
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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