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Impact on Children
A study published in the November 2003 issue of Child Abuse & Neglect found that children exposed to abuse on their mothers -- but not mistreated themselves -- also display increased behavior problems. The research was compiled by the University of Washington-Seattle and the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. The study surveyed 167 Seattle women, all of whom had children between 2- and 17 years old.

Each woman had police-reported or court-reported intimate-partner violence such as physical, psychological or sexual abuse. Each woman also filled out child behavior checklists by phone or mail. Researchers considered the surveyed child to be abused if any report triggered an investigation -- regardless of the findings of that investigation. This definition allows a "more sensitive measure" of mistreatment, and takes the difficulties of prosecuting abuse cases into account, according to the report. Investigators then compared the survey results from a Seattle sample of children with a nationally representative sample of children used to develop the checklist. The Child Behavior Checklist included questions on internalizing behaviors (depressive, withdrawn or anxious behavior) and externalizing behaviors (aggressive or delinquent behaviors).

The results were stronger among the children who had been abused -- but those only exposed to their mothers' abuse were also affected -- they were 60 percent more likely to show externalizing behaviors. They were 40 percent more likely to test in the borderline to clinical range for total behavioral problems.

(Source: University of Washington-Seattle
Children who suffer family violence are at risk of perpetrating domestic abuse themselves once they reach adulthood, finds to a study that followed over five hundred families for 20 years.

Researchers at Columbia University say three factors are the strongest predictors: "serious behavior problems in adolescence, exposure to domestic violence, and power punishments by the parents—harsh discipline.” Being subjected to physical abuse as a child was most likely to connect to violent romantic relationships later in life. The study found no gender difference among the violent. Both men and women are equally likely to commit acts of physical aggression. More than 20 percent of both genders reported being violent with their partner; 5 percent of this violence brought injury to the partner.

Researchers at Columbia first contacted 543 randomly selected children back in 1975. They, along with their parents, were interviewed in 1983, 1985 and 1991. The final survey, done in 1999, asked about aggressive behavior, romantic history and recent life changes.

(SOURCE: August 2003 issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology)
Children under the age of 12 resided in 43 percent of the households in which domestic violence was reported between 1993 and 1998.

(Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). May 2000. Intimate Partner Violence. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.)
Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate violence live in households with children under the age of 12.

(US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Factbook: Violence by Intimates, March 1998)
Boys who have witnessed partner violence are much more likely to become batterers in their adult relationships than boys who have not had exposure to partner violence in their families. The data is mixed for girls.

(Hotaling and Sugarman, 1996)
A child's exposure to the father abusing the mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.

(Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, APA, 1996)
Children exposed to partner violence exhibit symptoms similar to children who are physically and sexually abused, including the perpetuation of violence.

(Davidson, 1995)
In a national study of more than 6,000 American families, 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.

(Murray A Strauss, Richard J. Gelles, and Christine Smith. Physical Violence in American Families; Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1990), 407-409)
Men who as children witnessed their parents' domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.

(Murray A. Straus et al., Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1990)
75% of boys who witnessed domestic violence have been found to have demonstrable behavior problems.

(Jaffe, et al., 1987)
Children exposed to partner violence condoned it to resolve relationship conflicts more readily than did control groups.

(Jaffe, Wilson, and Wolfe, 1986)
Between 3.3 and 10 million children witness domestic violence in their home each year.

(Carlson, 1984)
Studies show that children are being physically abused in approximately half the families where the mother is a known victim of domestic assault. Similarly, studies show that mothers are being battered in approximately half the families where her child is a known victim of physical abuse.

(Jeffrey L. Edleson, PhD, The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Woman Abuse)

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