Original Article

Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 177-185

First online:

Relationship Abuse and Victims’ Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms: Associations with Child Behavior Problems

  • Jillian PanuzioAffiliated withNational Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System (116B-2)
  • , Casey T. TaftAffiliated withNational Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System (116B-2)Boston University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Danielle A. BlackAffiliated withUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • , Karestan C. KoenenAffiliated withHarvard School of Public Health
  • , Christopher M. MurphyAffiliated withUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore County

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This study examined associations among male-to-female physical and psychological relationship aggression, female partners’ PTSD symptoms, and behavior problems among the children (n = 62) of men enrolled in a treatment program for relationship abuse perpetration. Psychological aggression was a stronger predictor of child behavior problems than physical assault. Restrictive engulfment and hostile withdrawal behaviors evidenced the strongest bivariate associations with child behavior problems, and were the strongest predictors of this outcome when considering four distinct forms of psychological aggression together. Victim PTSD symptoms largely mediated the effects of psychological aggression on child behavior. Findings suggest that male-to-female psychological aggression and victim PTSD symptoms play an important role in understanding behavior problems among children living with male relationship abuse perpetrators.


Relationship abuse Child behavior Posttraumatic stress disorder Psychological aggression