Witnessing Intimate Partner Violence as a Child Does Not Increase the Likelihood of Becoming an Adult Intimate Partner Violence Victim

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
Academic Emergency Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.01). 06/2007; 14(5):411-8. DOI: 10.1197/j.aem.2006.11.032
Source: PubMed


To determine whether adults who witnessed intimate partner violence (IPV) as children would have an increased rate of being victims of ongoing IPV, as measured by the Ongoing Violence Assessment Tool (OVAT), compared with adult controls who did not witness IPV as children. The authors also sought to determine whether there were differences in demographics in these two groups.
This was a cross sectional cohort study of patients presenting to a high-volume academic emergency department. Emergency department patients presenting from November 16, 2005, to January 5, 2006, during 46 randomized four-hour shifts were included. A confidential computer touch-screen data entry program was used for collecting demographic data, including witnessing IPV as a child and the OVAT. Main outcome measures were witnessing IPV as a child, ongoing IPV, and associated demographics. Assuming a prevalence of IPV of 20% and a clinically significant difference of 20% between adults who witnessed IPV as children and adult controls who did not witness IPV as children, the study was powered at 80%, with 215 subjects included.
A total of 280 subjects were entered; 256 had complete data sets. Forty-nine percent of subjects were male, 45% were Hispanic, 72 (28%) were adults who witnessed IPV as children, and 184 (72%) were adult controls who did not witness IPV as children. Sixty-three (23.5%) were positive for ongoing IPV. There was no correlation of adults who witnessed IPV as children with the presence of ongoing IPV, as determined by univariate and bivariate analysis. Twenty-three of 72 (32%) of the adults who witnessed IPV as children, and 39 of 184 (21%) of the adult controls who did not witness IPV as children, were positive for IPV (difference, 11%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = -2% to 23%). Significant correlations with having witnessed IPV as a child included age younger than 40 years (odds ratio [OR], 4.2; 95% CI = 1.7 to 9.1), income less than $20,000/year (OR, 5.1; 95% CI = 1.6 to 12.5), and abuse as a child (OR, 9.1; 95% CI = 4.2 to 19.6). Other demographics were not significantly correlated with having witnessed IPV as a child.
Adults who witnessed IPV as children were more likely to have a lower income, be younger, and have been abused as a child, but not more likely to be positive for ongoing IPV, when compared with patients who had not witnessed IPV.

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    • "Research indicates that experiencing these traumas significantly increase the likelihood of perpetrating child abuse (Cunningham, 2003) and partner violence later in life (Ehrensaft et al., 2003; Stith et al., 2000; Swinford, DeMaris, Cernkovich, & Giordano, 2000; White & Widom, 2003; Wolfe, Wekerle, Scott, Straatman, & Grasley, 2004). However, some work indicates null effects, raising some doubts about the key assumptions of the cycle of violence (Ernst et al., 2007; Fergusson, Boden, & Horwood, 2006). For instance, using a prospective, longitudinal design of a New Zealand birth cohort, Fergusson et al. (2006) found that while controlling for many social and contextual factors missing from previous studies, childhood exposure to partner violence did not increase the risk of being a perpetrator or a victim of partner violence. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The association of perpetrators of intimate partner violence (IPV) with drug and alcohol use, abuse as a child, age, socioeconomics and race has been established. The relation between IPV perpetrators and being an adult who witnessed IPV as a child (ACW) is not fully established, although in a previous study no association was found between IPV victims and ACWs. Objective: The objective of the present study was to determine whether perpetrators of IPV could be identified in a busy emergency department (ED) and were more likely than non-perpetrators to be ACWs. The hypothesis of the present study was that perpetrators differed significantly from non-perpetrators in being ACWs, in being victims of IPV, and in demographics, drug and alcohol use, and history of child abuse. Methods: The design was a cross-sectional cohort of patients presenting to a high volume academic emergency department (ED) during 46 randomized 4-hour shifts determined via random numbers table 11/09/06-1/8/07. A choice of confidential computer touch screen data entry program or paper format was offered for collecting data. Data collected included demographics as well as scales to determine whether subjects were a perpetrator, victim, and/or ACW of IPV. Specific scales included a validated scale for perpetrators of IPV (PAPs), a single question for determining witnessing abuse as a child (ACW), and a validated scale, the ongoing violence assessment tool (OVAT) for ongoing victimization of IPV. Two other scales, the AWA and the WOVAT were used to confirm the construct validity of the scales used for perpetrators and ACWs. Predictor variables were ACW, ongoing IPV (OVAT) and demographics. Main Outcome Measures; Statistical analysis: Demographics and prevalence were reported as percentages. Relationships between perpetrators, ACWs, and victims were described using 2 way contingency tables. Predictors of perpetrators were analyzed using multivariable logistic regression. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% Confidence intervals were reported where indicated. Results: 236 subjects were entered, 207 had complete data sets. Forty-four (19%) were perpetrators. By univariate analysis there was a significant correlation of perpetrators and ACW (p=0.001 by single question) and between perpetrators and being IPV victims (p=0.001). There was no significant correlation of perpetrators with race, education, gender, insurance, children in the home, marital status, or abuse as a child. Perpetrators reported they and their spouses were more likely to use alcohol in excess and admitted to spouses’ abuse of drugs, but not their own. By regression analysis significant predictors of perpetrators included ACW (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.8, 11.3), and spouse drug abuse (OR 7.7; 95% CI 1.7, 34). Conclusion: Perpetrators were identified in a busy ED setting. Perpetrators were significantly more likely than non perpetrators to be ACWs but not more likely to be IPV victims. Spouse drug abuse and ACW were the 2 significant predictors of perpetrators.
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