Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 241–257 | Cite as

The Development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a Sample of Child Witnesses to Mother Assault

  • Peter Lehmann


This exploratory study examined the relationship between the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a number of coping variables in child witnesses to mother assault. The sample consisted of 84 children (mean age 11 years) who had been referred from shelters for battered women and child welfare agencies. Comparisons of those who met PTSD criteria (n = 47) and those who did not meet PTSD criteria (n = 37) found significant differences on variables of age, duration, and frequency of witnessing children. Child self-report instruments indicated that the PTSD group differed significantly from the non-PTSD group on the basis of assault anxiety, depression, dissociation, anger, and negative attributions. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that factors related to negative attributions and assault variables each contributed significantly to explaining 71% of the variance of PTSD symptoms, after the variables of age and sex were controlled. Discriminant function analysis correctly classified 84.3% of the respondents. The relevance of PTSD to child witnesses is considered, along with study limitations.

children posttraumatic stress disorder family violence 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Lehmann
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social WorkThe University of Texas at ArlingtonArlington

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