The Impact of Intimate Partner Violence Exposure in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: A Developmental Psychopathology Approach

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2018;47(sup1):S497-S508. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2018.1437736. Epub 2018 Mar 7.


Despite increased attention on parental intimate partner violence (IPV) exposure, a relative paucity of research has examined the developmental consequences of this traumatic experience within a life span approach. The aim of the present study was to examine how parental IPV exposure may relate to mental health during the transition from adolescence to emerging adulthood. Furthermore, we examined whether the impact of parental IPV exposure was unique from more commonly studied maltreatment experiences, specifically neglect and physical abuse. A large, racially and ethnically diverse sample (Nbaseline = 1,042; 56% female; Mage = 15.1, SD = 0.79; 31.4% Hispanic, 29.4% White, 27.9% African American, 3.6% Asian, 7.7% biracial or other) of adolescents completed a baseline assessment for parental physical IPV exposure and maltreatment as well as measures for symptoms of depression, posttraumatic stress, and substance use, annually for 6 consecutive years. Mixed-level modeling was used to examine how parental IPV exposure was uniquely associated with different patterns of mental health across developmental epochs. Findings demonstrated a multifaceted relation with mental health. For internalizing symptoms, the effect was pronounced during adolescence, and neglect increased the risk for depression symptomatology. Meanwhile, parental-IPV-exposed adolescents were at increasing risk for substance use as they aged into adulthood. Symptom levels and trajectories were independent and distinct from maltreatment experiences. This study helps illuminate parental IPV exposure's unique influence on well-being during vulnerable developmental periods. It also calls attention to the importance of developing suitable intervention/prevention programs to target this vulnerable population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / trends*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health / trends*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Psychology, Adolescent / trends*
  • Psychopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Young Adult