Continued Intimate Partner Violence During Pregnancy and After Birth and Its Effect on Child Functioning

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Objective:To investigate the effect of intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy with continued IPV up to 6 months after birth and its effect on child functioning.Design:Nonexperimental descriptive design.Setting:Safe shelters and the District Attorney's office in a large urban community in the United States.Participants:Abused women (N = 284) who reported IPV and reached out for services.Methods:Abused women who reported IPV answered a questionnaire on the effects of abuse during pregnancy and continued abuse after birth and child behaviors. Women who continued to experience abuse during pregnancy were compared with women who did not report abuse during pregnancy and after birth. The Achenback Child Behavior Checklist was used to evaluate child behavior. Research questions were analyzed through the use of nonparametric analyses.Results:Between the two groups, the relationship between IPV during pregnancy and IPV during the first 6 months after birth was significant (p < .001). The relation between women who reported abuse during pregnancy and conception rape was significant (p < .001). Most abused women (76%) were not screened for IPV during pregnancy (p = .025). Significant findings related to child behaviors and IPV during pregnancy were found for internalizing behaviors (p < .009), externalizing behaviors (p < .001), and total behavioral problems (p < .001).Conclusion:Intimate partner violence during pregnancy increases the risk of IPV 6 months after birth. These findings also indicated a negative intergenerational effect of IPV during pregnancy on child behavior. Screening for IPV during pregnancy is vital to interrupt ongoing IPV and possible negative outcomes for mother and child.

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