The Stress of Motherhood and Intimate Partner Violence during Emerging Adulthood

Emerg Adulthood. 2022 Oct;10(5):1204-1215. doi: 10.1177/2167696820984859. Epub 2021 Jan 12.


Intimate partner violence is a serious social and public health problem for women. Researchers have shown the context in which intimate partner violence occurs matters, yet, prior work has not examined specifically whether motherhood, and the relationship context of motherhood, are associated with physical violence. Drawing on the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (TARS) (n = 492), and the stress process framework, we compared emerging adult mothers' (mothers with one child and mothers with multiple children) and non-mothers' reports of physical violence. Using negative binomial regression models, we found that mothers with multiple children compared with non-mothers reported more instances of relationship violence. We also found women in dating relationships with one child compared to non-mothers reported substantially more physical violence. These findings underscore the nature of stress and motherhood during emerging adulthood and the need for intervention strategies that target new mothers.

Keywords: emerging adulthood; intimate partner violence; motherhood; multiple children; stress.