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Patterns of Intimate Partner Violence in Mothers At-Risk for Child Maltreatment


Using three interviews spanning 3 years, we identified intimate partner violence (IPV) classes and determined how class membership changed over time amongst a sample of 217 mothers at-risk for child maltreatment that were enrolled in an early childhood home visitation evaluation study. Data on perpetration/victimization, IPV type (verbal, physical, and sexual abuse and injury) and severity were used to conduct latent class analyses at each time point. Latent transition analyses established the proportion of mothers who changed classes over time. A three-class solution (minimal, moderate, and high IPV) was indicated at each time point. All classes included mutual IPV. Partners used minor verbal abuse in the minimal class, minor and severe verbal abuse and minor physical abuse in the moderate class, and all IPV categories in the high class. At each transition, 40 % or more women moved from minimal to moderate or high IPV. This movement emphasizes the need to screen women frequently and develop interventions recognizing the dynamic nature of IPV.

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Correspondence to Megan H. Bair-Merritt.

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Megan H. Bair-Merritt, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Sharon R. Ghazarian, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, John Hopkins School of Medicine; Lori Burrell, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, John Hopkins School of Medicine; Anne Duggan, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, John Hopkins School of Medicine.

None of the authors have any conflicts of interest to disclose. Megan H. Bair-Merritt is funded by a Career Development Award (K23HD057180) sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The parent study, evaluation of the Hawaii Healthy Start Program, was supported in part by the Federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau (R40MC00029 [formerly MCJ240637] and R40MC00123 [formerly MCJ 240838]); the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (18303); the Annie E. Casey Foundation (94–4041); the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (93–6051, 94–7957, 97–8058, and 98–3448); the Hawaii State Department of Health (99-29-J); and the National Institute of Mental Health, Epidemiological Center for Early Risk Behaviors (P30MH38725).

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Bair-Merritt, M.H., Ghazarian, S.R., Burrell, L. et al. Patterns of Intimate Partner Violence in Mothers At-Risk for Child Maltreatment. J Fam Viol 27, 287–294 (2012).

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  • Abuse
  • Latent class
  • Home visitation
  • IPV type