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Trauma Symptoms Among Infants Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 30 Issue: 2 Dated: February 2006 Pages: 109-125
Date Published
February 2006
17 pages

In exploring the number of infant trauma symptoms related to an infant’s temperament and the mother’s mental health and if severity of violence moderated those relationships, this study sought to determine whether infants had a traumatic response to intimate partner violence experienced by their mothers.


A significant relationship was found between maternal and infant trauma symptoms which was related to whether infants had been exposed to severe to less severe intimate partner violence (IPV). In other words, infants exhibited trauma when their mothers did and only when their mothers experienced severe violence. When infants witnessed severe IPV, they appeared to experience an additional stressor, the distress of their mothers. Additionally, mothers of girls were significantly more likely to report that their infants witnessed violence than were the mothers of boys. This study examined whether 1-year olds exhibited trauma symptoms as a result of exposure to episodes of IPV. It was hypothesized that infants exposed to severe IPV, compared to less severe IPV would have more infant trauma symptoms, as reported by the mother and that for those infants exposed to severe IPV, but not less severe IPV, mothers who exhibited trauma symptoms and depressive symptoms would be likely to report that their infants had trauma symptoms. The study consisted of 48 mother-infant dyads with 16 male and 32 female infants of the 48 mothers. Nearly half or 44 percent of the infants exposed to IPV had at least one trauma symptom. It was thought that the mothers in the study might be underreporting their infants’ symptoms; however, they did seem to underreport significantly their own trauma symptoms. Table, references

Date Published: February 1, 2006