The Effect of Intimate Partner Violence on the Psychosocial Development of Toddlers

Bianca Harper, Ijeoma Nwabuzor Ogbonnaya, Kelly C. McCullough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study used data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being II to examine the effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) on child-welfare-involved toddlers’ psychosocial development. The sample was limited to toddlers aged 12 to 18 months with mothers who did (n = 102) and did not (n = 163) report IPV physical victimization. Multiple linear regression analyses showed, when compared with mothers who did not report IPV physical victimization, mothers who reported IPV physical victimization were more likely to have toddlers with higher levels of socioemotional and behavioral problems (B = 5.06, p <.001). Conversely, delayed social competence was not associated with IPV (B = −1.33, p >.05). Further analyses examining only toddlers with mothers who reported IPV physical victimization revealed, when compared with IPV-exposed toddlers who had a child welfare report of physical abuse as the primary maltreatment type, those with IPV as the primary maltreatment type were at lower risk of having socioemotional and behavioral problems (B = −12.90, p <.05) and delayed social competence (B = 3.27, p <.05). These findings indicate a significant concern regarding toddler psychosocial development when a mother has experienced IPV. This concern is even greater among IPV-exposed toddlers who experience physical abuse. We recommend child welfare workers assess for IPV. Once identified, early prevention and intervention services should be offered and tailored to the specific needs of IPV-affected families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2512-2536
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • intimate partner violence
  • mothers
  • toddler development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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