Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 353–365 | Cite as

Concomitant Exposure to Animal Maltreatment and Socioemotional Adjustment among Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: a Mixed Methods Study

  • Shelby Elaine McDonaldEmail author
  • Anna M. Cody
  • Elizabeth A. Collins
  • Hilary T. Stim
  • Nicole Nicotera
  • Frank R. Ascione
  • James Herbert Williams


This study uses a mixed-methods approach to examine how patterns of exposure to animal maltreatment (AM) are related to socioemotional adjustment among children (N = 291) recruited from intimate partner violence (IPV) services. First, latent profile analysis (LPA) was used to identify subgroups of children with similar patterns of socioemotional functioning. Next, qualitative data from mothers and children were analyzed to identify thematic patterns in AM exposure among two subgroups of children identified through the LPA: Asymptomatic children and children with Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties (EBD). Seven themes were identified. Overall, EBD children, when compared to Asymptomatic children, were more likely to: a) have been exposed to severe forms of violence against animals, b) have experienced direct victimization by an IPV perpetrator following an effort to protect a pet, and c) express justification and normalization of violence against pets. Implications of our findings for research and clinical practice are discussed.


Animal maltreatment Intimate partner violence Childhood trauma 



This research was funded by Grant 5R01-HD-66503-4 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and Grant 2015-0709 from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or ASPCA. The authors would like to thank the community-based domestic violence advocates for their contribution to this work.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interests

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shelby Elaine McDonald
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna M. Cody
    • 1
  • Elizabeth A. Collins
    • 2
  • Hilary T. Stim
    • 1
  • Nicole Nicotera
    • 3
  • Frank R. Ascione
    • 3
  • James Herbert Williams
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social WorkVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  2. 2.Colorado Office of Children, Youth and FamiliesDenverUSA
  3. 3.Graduate School of Social WorkUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

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