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Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 377–398 | Cite as

Long-Term Effects of Witnessing Marital Violence for Women: The Contribution of Childhood Physical and Sexual Abuse

  • Margaret M. Feerick
  • Jeffrey J. Haugaard
Article

Abstract

A sample of 313 college women completed a questionnaire about experiences with violence in childhood and adulthood and adult adjustment and relationship functioning. Nine percent of the women reported having witnessed some type of physical conflict between their parents. Witnessing marital violence was associated with other family mental health risks, childhood physical and sexual abuse, and adult physical assaults by strangers. Women who witnessed marital violence reported more symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder than other women, after family background and abuse variables were accounted for. Significant interactions between witnessing marital violence and childhood physical abuse were observed for measures of social avoidance and predictability in partner relationships, indicating that the effects of witnessing marital violence depended on the presence of childhood abuse. Implications of these results for research and interventions are discussed.

marital violence child abuse effects on children adjustment 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Child Development and Behavior BranchNational Institute of Child Health and Human DevelopmentBethesda
  2. 2.Department of Human DevelopmentCornell UniversityIthaca

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