, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 427-434

Severity of Psychological Maltreatment and Accumulative Risk for Psychopathology in Children of Mothers Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

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Abstract

Psychological maltreatment (PM) is an extremely heterogeneous phenomenon that includes several subtypes. The aim of this work is to explore whether the accumulation of different subtypes of PM has a greater impact on the child’s psychopathology and functional impairment. One hundred and sixty-eight children and adolescents aged between 4 and 17 whose mothers had been exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) participated. Psychopathology was assessed through a rating scale and a diagnostic interview. Polynomial contrasts by means of Generalized Estimated Equations explored linear and quadratic trends. The greater the number of PM subtypes suffered by children, the greater the adverse effects in psychopathology and functioning. When a child suffers four PM subtypes, the number of DSM disorders is, on average, twice as high compared with children who are suffering only one PM subtype. Linear trends were mainly found in internalizing problems. The importance of accurately assessing characteristics and severity of PM, and design efficient programs of prevention and treatment, is highlighted.