Children's exposure to intimate partner violence: A meta-analysis of longitudinal associations with child adjustment problems

Clin Psychol Rev. 2016 Jun;46:25-33. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2016.04.003. Epub 2016 Apr 13.


This meta-analysis reviewed 74 studies that examined longitudinal associations between children's exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) and their adjustment problems. Results indicated that children's exposure to IPV is linked prospectively with child externalizing, internalizing, and total adjustment problems. Moreover, the magnitude of the association between IPV exposure and child externalizing and internalizing problems strengthens over time. In addition, associations are stronger between IPV exposure and child externalizing and internalizing problems when IPV is conceptualized broadly rather than narrowly (physical IPV+psychological and/or sexual IPV versus physical IPV only), and when information on IPV and child adjustment problems is obtained from the same source, rather than independent sources. When IPV exposure is measured at younger ages, compared to older ages, the association between IPV and child externalizing problems is greater. However, when child adjustment problems are measured at older ages, compared to younger ages, the association between IPV and child internalizing problems is greater. Child sex, sample type, and whether only the male partner's violence or both partners' violence was measured did not predict the association between children's exposure to IPV and later adjustment problems. The findings have both research and clinical implications regarding the long-term adjustment of children exposed to IPV and the conceptualization and measurement of resilience subsequent to IPV.

Keywords: Child adjustment; Intimate partner violence; Longitudinal; Meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Longitudinal Studies