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Intimate Partner Violence and Maternal Stress Essay

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Updated: Sep 24th, 2020

Experiences that children undergo in their families determine how they grow and develop in society. Chai et al. (2016) assert that violence in families is a source of stress that triggers trauma among children and predisposes them to diverse psychological problems. Given that parenting plays a central role in shaping the growth and development of children, the wellbeing of mothers determines the nature of parenting (Anyikwa, 2016). The existence of IPV is families have a marked influence on parents, parenting behavior, and children’s trauma. In their study, Ferdos and Rahman (2017) found out that sexual and physical violence are common types of IPV among pregnant women, which increases maternal stress and reduce the birth weight of children. In essence, IPV threatens the lives of mothers and children. According to Silval, Limall, and LudermirIII (2017), children from family backgrounds with IPV tend to acquire and develop psychological aggression. Thus, a study on the effect of IPV on maternal stress and trauma is necessary to enhance the understanding of gender-based violence in families.

In a family set-up, numerous factors mediate the effect of IPV on maternal stress and sibling trauma. Rotheram-Borus (2016) explains that the intensity of IPV has a statistically significant association with the magnitude of depression symptoms in women. Tsai, Tomlinson, Comulada, and Rotheram-Borus (2016) argue that the frequency of IPV is directly proportional to the emergence of maternal stress and sibling trauma. Families that experience intense and frequent IPV get high levels of maternal stress and sibling trauma. Howell, Barnes, Millerb, and Graham-Bermann (2016) maintain that IPV has an increasing effect of trauma on adolescents, toddlers, infants, and newborns. Therefore, based on the background information, the study hypothesizes that IPV is a predictor of maternal stress and sibling trauma. The findings support the hypothesis for they demonstrate that IPV is a strong predictor of maternal stress and sibling trauma.

Method

The study sampled mothers from families with violence (n = 47) and families without violence (n = 45) (Tailor, Stewart-Tufescu, & Piotrowski, 2015). The families had more than two children aged between 5 and 18 years with the ability to speak English fluently. Research Ethics Board of the university approved the study and recommended continued therapy of the participants. Following ethical approval, the study sought written informed consent from parents and oral permission from children. Maternal stress, sibling trauma, and parenting behavior are dependent variables of the study that were assessed using established research instruments.

Childhood exposure was determined by asking parents to rate the extent of exposure to intimate partner violence. Physical Aggression was used to measure violent behaviors that mothers and children experienced in their respective families. Trauma symptoms exhibited by children were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist-PTSD, which comprised of 20-items relating to post-traumatic stress disorder (Tailor, Stewart-Tufescu, & Piotrowski, 2015). The Parenting Stress Index, a scale with 19 items, was employed in evaluating the level of maternal stress. The interactions mothers and children were assessed through an observational procedure, which provided qualitative data.

Results

In the analysis of data to provide meaningful results, the study employed a t-test, chi-square test, correlation test, and hierarchical multiple regression analysis. T-test demonstrated that mothers with the experience of IPV had a higher level of maternal stress than mothers without, t(79) = 2.32, p = 0.023. Chi-square t-test showed that low education level, (2 (1) = 4.43, p = 0.035) and poverty (2 (1) = 5.22, p = 0.022) associated with the experience of intimate partner violence (Tailor, Stewart-Tufescu, & Piotrowski, 2015). Correlation analysis revealed that maternal stress has a strong relationship with negative parenting behavior, r(33) = 0.73, p = 0.000. Regression analysis indicated that maternal stress accounts for 45% of the variation in sibling trauma symptoms, R2 = 0.45, p = 0.023.s

Discussion

Researchers explain the results by linking to various themes and studies regarding intimate partner violence. Using the social structural theory in elucidating maternal stress, researchers argue that IPV creates maternal stress by forming a stressful environment. Subsequently, mothers with stress offer negative parenting behavior, which imposes trauma symptoms in children. Although differential treatment of children exists in families, maternal stress amplifies it. To enhance the validity of the study, future studies should consider using qualitative data and measuring the intensity and frequency of IPV.

Questions/Answers

Write an “overview” or a summary of the article. Indicate your assessment of what the study is about and the major findings of the study.

Since mothers have a significant influence on the welfare of their children, the experience of IPV has negative effects because they contribute to the occurrence of trauma symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this view, the study examined the effects of IPV by comparing sibling trauma, maternal stress, and parenting behavior between mothers with (n = 47) and those without (n = 45) the experience of IPV. The major findings are that families with IPV had higher levels of child trauma symptoms and maternal stress than families without IPV.

According to the introduction, what information was already known about the topic (look for references to previous research)? Did the author(s) describe the problem being studied? Did they present sufficient background literature to allow you to understand the problem better?

The introduction shows that previous studies had established that IPV has negative effects on children and adolescents for it causes social, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional problems. Subsequent studies demonstrated that the experience of IPV increases maternal stress and predicts the occurrence of trauma symptoms and PTSD in children. As the research problem, the authors contend that previous studies did not consider differential parental treatment of children based on their birth order. In describing the research problem, the authors presented adequate background information.

What variables were studied? What were the hypotheses concerning these variables?

The dependent variables of the study are parenting behavior, maternal stress, and sibling trauma symptoms, whereas the independent variables are family groups with and without IPV experience. The first hypothesis is that IPV-families have higher levels of parenting behavior, maternal stress, and sibling trauma symptoms than families without IPV. The second hypothesis holds that parenting behavior, maternal stress, and sibling trauma symptoms are predictors of trauma in children from IPV-families. The third hypothesis is that maternal stress has a more significant influence on sibling trauma symptoms among younger siblings when compared to older siblings.

What were the operational definitions of the variables studied (e.g., how was each variable or procedure specifically defined so that it could be studied)?

Parenting behavior was measured by observing the nature and quality of mother-child interactions. The study assessed maternal stress using the parenting stress index, which is an established scale with 19 items, while sibling trauma symptoms were evaluated using the check behavior checklist-PTSD scale with 20 items. The existence of IPV was gauged using a subscale of the Conflicts Tactics Scale (the Physical Aggression).

Who were the participants in this study? Were there any special participant characteristics?

The participants in the study were mothers and children. The special characteristics of the mothers are that those in IPV-family should provide a self-report of IPV experience, while a minimum of two children should come from the same family and their ages ought to be between 5 and 18 years.

What were the procedures used to test the hypotheses? Were the procedures in the method section detailed enough so that you could complete the study on your own?

The chi-square test, correlation test, t-test, and regression analysis were procedures used in testing the hypotheses. The procedures used are detailed and sufficient for one to replicate the study.

Was the experimental or non-experimental method used? Were there attempts to control any extraneous variables?

The study employed a non-experimental method because it did not control variables of interest. Extraneous variables were controlled during the recruitment of participants for researchers ensured that two children aged between 5 and 18 came from the same family, communicated fluently in English, and had the experience of IPV.

What were the major results of the study? Were the results consistent with the hypotheses?

The major results of the study are that maternal stress and sibling trauma symptoms are higher in families with IPV than those without. Moreover, maternal stress and sibling trauma symptoms are moderate predictors in older siblings and strong predictors in children. These results are consistent with the three hypotheses of the study.

Please describe exactly how the authors list their statistical findings (e.g. t=3.26, p<.01). This information is located in your journal article.

The authors listed statistical findings of the t-test, chi-square test, correlation test, and regression test by showing test statistics, degrees of freedom, and the p-value. For instance, in the t-test, the authors showed that maternal stress is statistically significantly higher among mothers with IPV experience than among those without the experience, t(79) = 2.32, p = 0.023. The chi-square test shows that there is association between IPV and lower education level (2 (1) = 4.43, p = 0.035) and poverty (2(1) = 5.22, p = 0.022). Correlation test demonstrated that there is a moderate relationship between maternal stress and negative parenting behaviors (r (33) = 0.73, p =0.000) and positive parenting behaviors (r (33) = 0.59, p = 0.000) directed to younger siblings and older siblings. Regression analysis showed statistical significance of the regression model (F(4,23) = 7.67, p = 0.000) and established that maternal stress explains 45% of the variation in sibling trauma symptoms, R2 =0.45, p = 0.23.

How do the results relate to the other studies cited in the introduction?

The findings relate to previous studies because it demonstrates that mothers who have IPV history have higher levels of maternal stress and predispose their children to trauma symptoms.

How did the researcher interpret the results? Can you think of alternative interpretations?

The researchers interpreted the results of the study by linking to findings of the previous studies and contextualizing their occurrence. I consider that the researcher interpreted the results well for I cannot provide an alternative interpretation.

Did the author give suggestions for future research or applications?

The authors noted the limitation of their study and suggested future research to employ qualitative or mixed-methods design and the determination of the severity and frequency of IPV.

What would you do if you wished to find out more about this research topic?

To find additional information about the research on this topic, I would read references listed in this article and research on the current studies from recently published articles.

References

Anyikwa, A. (2016). A trauma-informed approach to survivors of intimate partner violence. Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work, 13(5), 484-49. Web.

Chai, J., Fink, G., Kaaya, S., Danaei, G., Fawzi, W., Ezzati, M., … Fawzi, M. (2016). Association between intimate partner violence and poor child growth: Results from 42 demographic and health surveys. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 94(1), 331-339. Web.

Ferdos, J., & Rahman, M. (2017). Maternal experience of intimate partner violence and low birth weight of children: A hospital-based study in Bangladesh. PLoS ONE, 12(10), 1-13. Web.

Howell, K., Barnes, S., Millerb, L., & Graham-Bermann, S. (2016). Developmental variations in the impact of IPV exposure during childhood. Journal of Injury and Violence Research, 8(1), 43-57. Web.

Silval, J., Limall, M., & LudermirIII, A. (2017). Intimate partner violence and maternal educational practice. Revista de Saude Publica, 51(34), 1-11. Web.

Tailor, K., Stewart-Tufescu, A., & Piotrowski, C. (2015). Children exposed to intimate partner violence: Influences of parenting, family distress, and siblings. Journal of Family Psychology, 29(1), 29-38. Web.

Tsai, C., Tomlinson, M., Comulada, S., Rotheram-Borus, J. (2016). Intimate partner violence and depression symptom severity among South African women during pregnancy and postpartum: Population-based prospective cohort study. PLoS Medicine, 13(1), 1-22. Web.

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