A Cross-Sectional Examination of Intimate Partner Violence and Mother-Child Communication


Objective: Parent-child communication about substance abuse, violence, and HIV/AIDS (i.e., SAVA) may protect against intergenerational risks, as open communication can enhance children’s resilience to combat adversities. We used moderation analyses to identify variables that affect mothers’ comfort with communicating with their children about SAVA. Methods: Participants (Mage = 34.62 years; SD = 7.95) were mothers of youth between the ages of 6 and 14 who endorsed experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) within the last six months. Mothers reported on their experiences with IPV victimization (Revised Conflict Tactics Scale) and perpetration (History of Violence Perpetration Measure), and their comfort communicating with their children about SAVA (Parent-Child Communication about SAVA Scale). Results: More severe IPV was associated with less comfort communicating (β = −003; p < 0.01). In addition, more frequent IPV perpetration was associated with less comfort communicating (β = −2.46; p < 0.01). Moderation was supported, such that the association between experiencing IPV and comfort with communication varied by experiences with IPV perpetration (β = 0.01; p < 0.01). Child’s age was a significant moderator of the relationship between bidirectional intimate partner violence (i.e., experiencing both victimization and perpetration), and comfort with communicating (β = −0.0004; p < 0.01). Conclusions: Findings highlight the negative consequences of bidirectional violence, such that mothers who are both victims and perpetrators of violence were less willing to communicate with their children. Given the crucial role of communication in promoting resilience, this lack of communication may place children on a problematic health trajectory.

Publication Title

Journal of Child and Family Studies