Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Kathryn Howell

Committee Member

James Murphy

Committee Member

Hongmei Zhang

Committee Member

Idia B Thurston


Background: Mothers’ experiences of childhood violence (CV) and adulthood intimate partner violence (IPV) are linked with poorer social emotional functioning in their offspring. Little work has concurrently examined the associations between mothers’ CV, mothers’ adulthood IPV, youth’s own direct violence victimization (physical and sexual assault), and youth’s perceptions of maternal IPV on youth’s social competence. Further, family-based promotive factors, such as open mother-child communication, may affect youth’s social competence following violence exposure. Method: This study included 162 mother-child dyads from community organizations serving families in the MidSouth, United States; all mothers (Mage=35.24, SD=6.70; 80.7% Black or African American) reported IPV exposure in the past 6 months. Youth were on average 12 years old (M=12.38, SD=2.84; 59% female) and predominantly Black or African American (85.5%). Results: A mediated path model assessing the direct effects of mothers’ CV, mothers’ adulthood IPV, youth’s direct victimization, and youth’s exposure to maternal IPV on youth’s social competence, and the indirect effects of these violence variables through open mother-child communication, yielded a strong fit [χ2 (12)=12.19, p=.43; RMSEA=.01 [CI, 0.00-0.08]; CFI=.99; SRMR=.04]. An indirect-only mediation effect was found between youth’s direct victimization through open mother-child communication on youth’s social competence (β=-0.63, p=.027; 95% CI [-1.60, -0.11], such that youth exposed to more direct victimization reported less open communication, which was linked to lower social competence. Conclusions: Results demonstrate the impact of direct victimization exposure on youth’s view of themselves and their relationship with their caregivers. Increasing access to family-based interventions that create opportunities to reduce family conflict and strengthen mother-child communication could promote youth’s social competence following direct victimization. Policy level changes are necessary to increase prevention efforts intended to reduce the intergenerational transmission of violence not only within families but also in communities systematically impacted by ongoing discrimination and oppression.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access