Cycle of violence among young Kenyan women: The link between childhood violence and adult physical intimate partner violence in a population-based survey

Child Abuse Negl. 2018 Oct;84:45-52. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2018.07.010. Epub 2018 Jul 21.


The aim of the current analysis is to elucidate the link between childhood experiences of violence and physical intimate partner violence in young adulthood in a national survey of young Kenyan women. In 2010, we conducted the Violence against Children Survey in Kenya, collecting retrospective reports from 13 to 24 year old males and females (N = 2928). The analysis presented here focused on females aged 18-24 who ever had an intimate partner (n = 566). Young Kenyan women had statistically higher odds of experiencing physical intimate partner violence (IPV) in young adulthood if they had experienced any childhood violence (including sexual, emotional, or physical) [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 3.1 CI: 1.2-7.9, p = 0.02)], any childhood sexual violence (AOR = 2.5, CI 1.3-4.9, p = 0.006), or unwanted completed sex (including pressured or forced sex prior to age 18) (AOR = 4.3, CI: 2.3-8.3, p < 0.0001). Exposure to two (AOR = 3.9, CI: 1.2-12.2, p = 0.02) or three (AOR = 5.0, CI: 1.4-18.1, p = 0.01) types of violence in childhood was also associated with a significantly higher odds of experiencing adult physical IPV. Childhood violence is associated with increased odds of adult physical IPV among young women; efforts to prevent violence against children and provide appropriate care and support to adult survivors are critical to interrupt this cycle of violence.

Keywords: Intimate partner violence; Kenya; Revictimization; Sexual violence; Violence against children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Exposure to Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Physical Examination
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult