Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 49–60 | Cite as

Intimate Partner Violence in Rural Low-Income Families: Correlates and Change in Prevalence Over the First 5 Years of a Child’s Life

  • Hanna C. Gustafsson
  • Martha J. Cox
  • the Family Life Project Key Investigators
Original Article


Despite evidence that individuals living in low-income and rural communities may be at heightened risk for intimate partner violence (IPV), little is known about the prevalence and nature of IPV occurring in these communities. The goal of the current study, therefore, was to characterize IPV occurring in a population-based sample of families living in communities characterized by rural poverty. Specifically, we examined the prevalence, severity, and chronicity of IPV occurring in this high-risk sample, as well as the demographic correlates thereof. Using data from multiple assessments across the first 5 years of their child’s life, we also examined changes in the prevalence of IPV across this time. Results indicate that IPV was most prevalent around the birth of the target child and that the population-level prevalence of IPV decreased significantly over the subsequent 5 years. Although previous research suggests that children under the age of five are at heightened risk for IPV relative to older children, this is the first study to our knowledge to demonstrate that there are changes in the prevalence of IPV within this high-risk age period.


Domestic violence Incidence Rural poverty Early childhood Family life project 



This research was supported by a grant from National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (PO1-HD-39667) with co-funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as well as by a predoctoral fellowship provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (T32-HD07376) and a postdoctoral fellowship in behavioral medicine awarded by the Herbert H. and Ruth S. Reiner fellowship fund.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanna C. Gustafsson
    • 1
  • Martha J. Cox
    • 2
  • the Family Life Project Key Investigators
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryColumbia University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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