Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 387–399 | Cite as

Intimate Partner Violence in Extremely Poor Women: Longitudinal Patterns and Risk Markers

  • Ellen Bassuk
  • Ree Dawson
  • Nicholas Huntington
Original Article


Despite high revalence rates of intimate partner violence in the lives of extremely poor women with dependent children, few studies have investigated the patterns of violence that occur over time, and the characteristics of women that serve as risk markers for partner violence. This paper describes patterns of domestic violence longitudinally and uses multivariate analyses to delineate childhood and adult risk markers for recent intimate partner violence in this population of women. Analyses draw upon a sample of 436 homeless and extremely poor housed mothers receiving welfare, in a mid-sized city in Massachusetts with a large Hispanic population of Puerto Rican descent and relatively fewer Blacks. We found that among women with complete longitudinal data (N=280), almost two-thirds experienced intimate partner violence at some point during their adult life by the end of study follow-up, and that the abuse before and after the baseline interview was episodic and limited over time. To examine the role of individual women's factors, while controlling for partner characteristics, we used baseline data on women who had been partnered during the past year (N=336). Among childhood predictors, we found that sexual molestation contributed most significantly to adult intimate partner violence that occurred during the past year prior to the baseline interview. Adult risk markers included inadequate emotional support from non-professionals, poor self-esteem, and a partner with substance abuse problems. Having a partner with poor work history was another independent predictor of recent abuse. Ethnicity did not significantly predict whether women were abused or not during the past year, contrary to other findings reported in the literature.


Partner violence Risk factors Sexual abuse 



The analysis reported in this paper was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice (98-WT-VX-0012).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen Bassuk
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ree Dawson
    • 3
  • Nicholas Huntington
    • 4
  1. 1.The National Center on Family HomelessnessNewtonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Frontier Science and Technology Research FoundationBrooklineUSA
  4. 4.The National Center on Family HomelessnessNewtonUSA

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