Neighborhood Disadvantage Moderates the Effect of Perinatal Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Exposure on Disorganized Attachment Behaviors Among 12-Month- Old Infants

Cecilia Martinez-Torteya*, Alyssa Donovan, Michelle A. Gilchrist, Heather Marshall, Alissa C. Huth-Bocks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Perinatal intimate partner violence (IPV) hinders the development of mother–infant attachment and may contribute to the development of infant disorganized attachment behaviors, forecasting later socioemotional and behavioral dysfunction. Because women exposed to IPV also disproportionately experience neighborhood disadvantage, and family and community adversity may potentiate the detrimental effects of each other, the current study evaluates the interactive effect of perinatal IPV and neighborhood disadvantage on infant disorganized attachment behaviors. Method: An ethnically and economically diverse sample of 78 mother–infant dyads was recruited from the community and assessed in the laboratory when infants were about 12 months old. Women retrospectively reported whether they experienced physical victimization from a partner during pregnancy and the first year postpartum and provided their current address. Census tract records were used to determine neighborhood characteristics (percentage poverty, unemployment, college, White, and number of violent crimes) and extract a neighborhood disadvantage factor score using exploratory factor analysis. Infant disorganized attachment behaviors were assessed during the strange situation procedure using a continuous score. Results: Neighborhood disadvantage moderated the effect of perinatal physical IPV exposure on attachment. The association between IPV and infant disorganized attachment behavior was only significant at high levels of neighborhood disadvantage but not at average or low levels. Conclusions: Findings are consistent with previous reports that neighborhood characteristics potentiate family-level risks and suggest that experiencing both IPV and neighborhood deprivation and danger increases infant disorganized attachment behaviors. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DePaul University

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


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