Original Article

Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 33-42

First online:

The Influence of Domestic Violence on Preschooler Behavior and Functioning

  • Gabriel J. YbarraAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of North Florida Email author 
  • , Susan L. WilkensAffiliated withAlliant University
  • , Alicia F. LiebermanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco

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Enhancing current explanations of domestic violence exposure effects on child cognitive and behavioral functioning was the purpose of this investigation. Participants were 31 domestic violence exposed and 31 non-exposed children ages 3 to 5 years and their single-parent household mothers. Child-mother pairs were matched for child’s age, gender, and ethnicity, mother’s age and education, and annual family income. Child cognitive and behavioral functioning was assessed via psychological assessment and parent report. The presence of mental health difficulties in mothers was assessed using self-report and clinician-administered instruments. Exposed children showed lower verbal functioning and higher internalizing behaviors than did their non-exposed peers. Exposed mothers displayed greater psychological difficulties than did their counterparts.


Domestic violence Preschoolers Intelligence Psychopathology