Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Megan Haselschwerdt, Megan Haselschwerdt

Committee Members

Delores Smith, Spencer Olmstead

Abstract

Research on children’s exposure to interparental domestic violence (CEDV) has mostly examined the association between CEDV and children’s externalizing and internalizing problems, with less emphasis on CEDV’s impact on physical health outcomes. However, research has shown that CEDV has the potential to negatively influence youth development and adjustment, as represented by physical health symptoms. Emerging research suggests that CEDV impacts youth differently depending on the characteristics of the physical violence and the extent to which the DV is rooted in coercive control. However, this CEDV complexity has not been examined within the physical health outcome literature. To address these gaps, this study applied Holden’s CEDV taxonomy, the dose-response relationship, and coercive control to test the association between young adults’ retrospective accounts of CEDV on their current physical health symptoms. The data for this study comes from phase two of the Young Adult Live and Learn project. The participants were 147 young adults (ages 18-25), including a DV-exposed sample (n = 94) and a comparison sample of non-DV-exposed young adults (n = 53). Participants completed an anonymous online survey on exposure to father-perpetrated DV against their mothers during their childhood and adolescence. Descriptive statistics, bivariate correlations, a t-test, and a hierarchical linear regression were conducted to examine whether CEDV was associated with young adults’ physical health symptoms and whether assessing frequency of physical violence and coercive control contributed to the association. The findings were inconsistent with previous studies such that there were not any associations between CEDV and young adults’ physical health symptoms. Neither the frequency of exposure to physical violence nor the frequency of exposure to coercive control during childhood were associated with physical health symptoms in young adulthood. These findings have implications for the study of CEDV’s impact into young adulthood, including that interventions should continue focusing on psychosocial outcomes versus physical health outcomes during this developmental period.

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