Children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) are at risk for posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and alterations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning. The current study investigated children’s threat and self-blame appraisals about parental conflict as potential mechanisms leading to these adverse outcomes. Parent-child relationships were also examined. The sample consisted of 119 10-year-olds and their mothers who were recruited from the community as part of a larger study of IPV. Children’s reports of IPV directed at their mother in the past year were not associated with PTSS; however, IPV exposure was associated with attenuated cortisol output in response to a social stressor. IPV exposure was also associated with greater threat appraisals and poorer quality parent-child relationships. These results provide further evidence that witnessing IPV is threatening for children, has negative consequences for parent-child relationships, and can impact children’s HPA axis functioning.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Health(social science)