Advertisement

Perceptions of Family Relationships and Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms of Children Exposed to Domestic Violence

  • Olivia Paul
Original Article

Abstract

This study examines the association between exposure to domestic violence, children’s perceptions of family relationships, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and explores the moderating role of children’s perceptions of family relationships. The sample consists of 46 children exposed to domestic violence (26 girls and 20 boys), aged 6 to 12 years, staying at housing shelters for victims of domestic violence. Children completed several questionnaires and the SAGA, a systemic tool, enabling us to examine their perceptions and family relationships. The results indicate that exposure to domestic violence is related to symptoms of anxiety and depression and to the child’s perception of father-mother and father-child relationships in both conflictual and typical situations. Perceptions of father-mother and father-child relationships in typical situations are both associated with anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms. In contrast, the mother-child relationship was found to have a moderating role on the relation between the duration of domestic violence exposure and the symptom of anger. This study attests to the value of continuing research on the role of the child’s perception of family relationships, but above all to better regulate the visiting and accommodation rights of fathers who perpetrate domestic violence in order to protect children, especially when they show symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Keywords

Domestic violence Children exposed Post-traumatic stress symptoms Family relationships Children’s perceptions 

Notes

References

  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park/London, R.-U. : Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Alisic, E., Zalta, A. K., Van Wesel, F., Larsen, S. E., Hafstad, G. S., Hassanpour, K., & Smid, G. E. (2014). Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder in trauma-exposed children and adolescents: Meta-analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 204(5), 335–340.  https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.113.131227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. G. (2002). The battered as parent: Assessing the impact of domestic violence on family dynamics. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 9(2), 284–285.  https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452240480.Google Scholar
  4. Bourassa, C. (2010). La complexité et la pluralité des expériences maternelles en contexte de violence conjugale. Enfance, Familles et Générations, 12, 111–126.  https://doi.org/10.7202/044395ar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bourassa, C., Robinson, J., Lessard, G., Turcotte, P., Lavergne, C., Damant, D., & Flynn, C. (2008). La maternité et la paternité en contexte de violence conjugale. In C. Parent, S. Drapeau, M. Brousseau, & E. Pouliot (Eds.), Visages multiples de la parentalité (pp. 321–353). Québec: PUQ.Google Scholar
  6. Briere, J. (1989). The trauma symptom checklist for children (TSCC). University of Southern California School of Medecine, USA.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, J. (1998). Practice parameters for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, 4–26.  https://doi.org/10.1097/00004583-199810001-00002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Compagnone, P. (2009). Présentation d’un outil systémique : le SAGA. Le Journal des Psychologues, 265(2), 42–46.  https://doi.org/10.3917/jdp.265.0042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crusto, C. A., Whitson, M. L., Walling, S. M., Feinn, R., Friedman, S. R., Reynolds, J., & Kaufman, J. S. (2010). Posttraumatic stress among young urban children exposed to family violence and other potentially traumatic events. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 23(6), 716–724.  https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.20590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (2011). Marital conflict and children: An emotional security perspective. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  11. Cyr, F., & Fortin, A. (2001). Évaluation par l’enfant des conflits parentaux (EECP). (Traduction française de Grych, J. H., Seid, M. et Fincham, F. D. (1992), Children’s Appraisals of Interparental Conflict). Montréal, Qc : Université de Montréal.Google Scholar
  12. De la Sablonnière, E., & Fortin, A. (2010). Violence conjugale et qualité de la relation mère enfant : effet médiateur ou modérateur de la santé des mères ? Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 42, 212–221.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017071.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeBoard-Lucas, R. L., & Grych, J. H. (2011). Children’s perceptions of intimate partner violence: Causes, consequences, and coping. Journal of Family Violence, 26(5), 343–354.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-011-9368-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Doucet, M., & Fortin, A. (2010). La parentification et les conflits de loyauté chez l’enfant exposé a` la violence conjugale : contribution du point de vue de l’enfant sur la violence. Enfance, 2, 201–221.  https://doi.org/10.4074/S0013754510002041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fortin, A. (2005). Le point de vue de l’enfant sur la violence à laquelle il est exposé. Subvention du Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC). Rapport final. Montréal, QC: Département de Psychologie et Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur la Violence Familiale et faite aux Femmes, Université de Montréal.Google Scholar
  16. Fortin, A., & Lachance, L. (2011). La parentification chez l’enfant exposé à la violence conjugale. La Revue Internationale de l’Education Familiale, 29, 63–86.  https://doi.org/10.3917/rief.029.0063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fortin, A., Cyr, M., & Lachance, L. (2000). Les enfants témoins de violence conjugale : analyse des facteurs de protection. Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la violence familiale et la violence faite aux femmes, Etudes et analyse, 13.Google Scholar
  18. Fortin, A., Trabelsi, M., & Dupuis, F. (2002). Les enfants témoins de violence conjugale : analyse des facteurs de protection, document de synthèse, distribué par le Centre de liaison sur l’intervention et la prévention psychosociales (clipp).Google Scholar
  19. Fortin, A., Damant, D., Doucet, M., & De la Sablonnière, É. (2006). L’impact de la violence conjugale pour l’enfant : caractéristiques des mères, qualité de la relation mère-enfant et point de vue de l’enfant. Québec : Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux du Québec.Google Scholar
  20. Fortin, A., Doucet, M., & Damant, D. (2011). Children’s appraisals as mediators of the relationship between domestic violence and child adjustment. Violence and Victims, 26(3), 377–392.  https://doi.org/10.1891/0886-6708.26.3.377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fox, G. L., Sayers, J., & Bruce, C. (2001). Beyond bravado: Redemption and rehabilitation in the fathering accounts of men who batter. Marriage and Family Review, 32, 137–163.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J002v32n03_08.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Franck, K. L., & Buehler, C. (2007). A family process model of marital hostility, parental depressive affect, and early adolescent problem behavior: The roles of triangulation and parental warmth. Journal of Family Psychology, 21, 614–625.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.21.4.614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gehring, T. M., & Wyler, I. L. (1986). Family-system-test (FAST): A three dimensional approach to investigate family relationships. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 16(4), 235–248.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00706480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Green, B. L., Goodman, L. A., Krupnick, J. L., Corcoran, C. B., Petty, R. M., Stockton, P., & Stern, N. M. (2000). Outcomes of single versus multiple trauma exposure in a screening sample. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 13, 271–286.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007758711939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grych, J. H., Seid, M., & Fincham, F. D. (1992). Assessing marital conflict from the child’s perspective: The children’s perception of interparental conflict scale. Child Development, 63, 558–572.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1131346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Grych, J. H., Fincham, F. D., Jouriles, E. N., & McDonald, R. (2000). Interparental conflict and child adjustment: Testing the mediational role of appraisals in the cognitive-contextual framework. Child Development, 71(6), 1648–1661 0009-3920/2000/7106-0015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hesse, E., & Main, M. (2006). Frightened, threatening, and dissociative parental behavior in low-risk samples: Description, discussion and interpretations. Development and Psychopathology, 18, 309–343.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579406060172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Holden, G., & Ritchie, K. (1991). Linking extrememarital discord, child rearing and child behaviour problems: Evidence from battered women. Child Development, 62(2), 311–327.  https://doi.org/10.2307/1131005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Holden, G. W., Barker, E. D., Appel, A., & Hazlewood, L. (2010). Partner-abusers as fathers: Testing hypotheses about their child rearing and the risk of physical child abuse. Partner Abuse, 1, 186–199.  https://doi.org/10.1891/1946-6560.1.2.186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hunter, E. C., & Graham-Bermann, S. A. (2013). Intimate partner violence and child adjustment: Moderation by father contact? Journal of Family Violence, 28, 435–444.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-013-9517-x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jouriles, E. N., McDonald, R., Smith Slep, A. M., Heyman, R. E., & Garrido, E. (2008). Child abuse in the context of domestic violence: Prevalence, explanations, and pratice implications. Violence and Victims, 23(2), 221–35.  https://doi.org/10.1891/0886-6708.23.2.221.
  32. Jouvin, E., Cyr, M., Thériault, C., & Wright, J. (2001). Étude des qualités psychométriquesde la traduction franc¸aise du Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children(TSCC). Montréal: Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal.Google Scholar
  33. Katz, L. F., & Low, S. M. (2004). Marital violence, co-parenting, and family-level processes in relation to children’s adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology, 18(2), 372–382.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-3200.18.2.372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kerig, P. K. (1998). Gender and appraisals as mediators of adjustment in children exposed to interparental violence. Journal of Family Violence, 13(4), 345–363.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022871102437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kilpatrick, K. L., & Williams, L. M. (1997). Post-traumatic stress disorder in child witnesses to domestic violence. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 67(4), 639–644.  https://doi.org/10.1037/h0080261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lapierre, S. (2006). « Ma mère était à lui, comme une possession un peu » : Le point de vue d’enfants et d’adolescents vivant dans un contexte de violence familial. Journal International de Victimologie, 5(1), 35–43.Google Scholar
  37. Lavergne, C., Chamberland, C., & Laporte, L. (2001). Violence conjugale et mauvais traitements envers les enfants: étude des cas signalés à la Direction de la protection de la jeunesse au Québec, actes de colloque de l’Association canadienne-française pour l’avancement des sciences (ACFAS), Sherbrooke.Google Scholar
  38. Lehmann, P. (1997). The development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of child witnesses to mother assault. Journal of Family Violence, 12(3), 241–257.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022842920066.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lessard, G., & Chamberland, C. (2003). Agir auprès des familles où il y a de la violence conjugale et de la violence parentale. In C. Chamberland (Ed.), Violence conjugale et violence parentale des réalités plurielles, multidimensionnelles et interreliées (pp. 275–318). Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Levendosky, A. A., Lynch, S. M., & Graham-Bermann, S. A. (2000). Mothers’ perception of the impact of women abuse on their parenting. Violence Against Women, 6, 247–271.  https://doi.org/10.1177/10778010022181831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Levendosky, A. A., Huth-Bocks, A. C., Shapiro, D. L., & Semel, M. A. (2003). The impact of domestic violence on the maternal–child relationship and preschool-age children’s functioning. Journal of Family Psychology, 17(3), 275–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Margolin, G., & Vickerman, K. A. (2011). Posttraumatic stress in children and adolescents exposed to family violence : I. Overview and Issues. Couple and Family Psychology : Research and Practice, 1, 63–73.  https://doi.org/10.1037/2160-4096.1.S.63. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Martinez-Torteya, C., Bogat, G. A., von Eye, A., & Levendosky, A. A. (2009). Resilience among children exposed to domestic violence: The role of risk and protective factors. Child Development, 80(2), 562–577.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01279.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Moylan, C. A., Herrenkohl, T. I., Sousa, C., Tajima, E. A., Herrenkohl, R. C., & Russo, M. J. (2010). The effects of child abuse and exposure to domestic violence on adolescent internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Journal of Family Violence, 25, 53–63.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-009-9269-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Paul, O., & Zaouche Gaudron, C. (2017). Symptômes de stress post-traumatique chez les enfants exposés à la violence conjugale : le rôle des conflits de loyauté. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 49(1), 32–40.  https://doi.org/10.1037/cbs0000063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Paul, O., & Zaouche Gaudron, C. (2018). Perception de la menace, sentiment de blâme et symptômes de stress post-traumatique de l’enfant exposé à la violence conjugale. Neuropsychiatrie de l’Enfance et de l’Adolescence, 66, 38–46.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neurenf.2017.03.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Peled, E. (1998). The experience of living with violence for preadolescent witnesses of woman abuse. Youth and Society, 29, 395–430.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X98029004001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Perel, G., & Peled, E. (2008). The fathering of violent men constriction and yearning. Violence Against Women, 14(4), 457–482.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1077801208314846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Savard, N., & Zaouche Gaudron, C. (2014). Violence conjugale, stress maternel et développement de l’enfant. Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 46, 216–225.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Scheeringa, M. S., Zeanah, C. H., & Cohen, J. A. (2011). PTSD in children and adolescents: Toward an empirically based algorithma. Depression and Anxiety, 28(9), 770–82.Google Scholar
  51. Spilsbury, J. C., Belliston, L., Drotar, D., Drinkard, A., Kretschmar, J., Creeden, R., Flannery, D. J., & Friedman, S. (2007). Clinically significant trauma symptoms and behavioral problems in a community-based sample of children exposed to domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 22, 487–499.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-007-9113-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sullivan, C. M. (2000). How children’s adjustment is affected by their relationships to their mothers’ abusers. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15, 587–602.  https://doi.org/10.1177/088626000015006003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Telman, M. D., Overbeek, M. M., de Shipper, J. C., Lamers-Winkerman, F., Finkenauer, C., & Schuengel, C. (2016). Family functioning and Children’s post-traumatic stress symptoms in a referred sample exposed to Interparental violence. Journal of Family Violence, 31, 127–136.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-015-9769-8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thornton, V. (2014). Understanding the emotional impact of domestic violence on young children. Educational and Child Psychology, 31(1), 90–101 http://hdl.handle.net/11212/3644.Google Scholar
  55. Turner, H. A., Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., Hamby, S., Leeb, R. T., Mercy, J. A., & Holt, M. (2012). Family context, victimization, and child trauma symptoms: Variations in safe, stable, and nurturing relationships during early and middle childhood. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(2), 209–19.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01147.
  56. Van der Kolk, B. A. (2005). Developmental trauma disorder. Psychiatric Annals, 35, 401–408.  https://doi.org/10.3928/00485713-20050501-06.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Vila, G. (2006). L'Etat de stress post-traumatique chez l'enfant. Journal de Pédiatrie et de Puériculture ,19(3), 97–100.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpp.2006.02.003
  58. Walker, L. E. (1979). The Battered Woman. New York : Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  59. Wang, L., & Crane, R. (2001). The relationship between marital satisfaction, marital stability, nuclear family triangulation, and childhood depression. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 29, 337–347.  https://doi.org/10.1080/01926180126502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wright, J., & Sabourin, S. (1996). Traduction française du Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (document inédit). Département de psychologie, Université de Montréal.Google Scholar
  61. Zaouche Gaudron, C., Paul, O., & Savard, N. (2017). Séparation père-enfant exposé aux violences conjugales : contribution au débat. Revue Scientifique de l’Association Internationale Francophone des Intervenants auprès des Familles Séparées, 10(1), 1–30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Bretagne OccidentaleBrestFrance

Personalised recommendations