Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence Demonstrate Disturbed Sleep and Impaired Functional Outcomes

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Abstract

Sleep problems and adaptive functioning were examined in children who were exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV). Participants included 100 mothers. Forty mothers experienced IPV and were residing in an IPV shelter with their 6- to 13-year-old child. These mothers reported on their experience of IPV in the presence of their child, their psychopathology symptoms, their child’s adaptive functioning, and their child’s sleep problems. Sixty community-based mothers with 6- to 11-year-old children provided reference values for maternal psychopathology and child sleep problems, which were lower than IPV-exposed mothers’ and children’s values, respectively. Two-thirds (63%) of children exposed to IPV (vs. reference value = 45%) had a sleep problem(s). Increased physical and verbal IPV were associated with increased maternal psychopathology, which was associated with increased child sleep problems. IPV-exposed children with sleep problems demonstrated worse adaptive functioning than children without sleep problems; however, differences may be accounted for by maternal psychopathology.

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