Exposure to intimate partner violence and internalizing symptoms: the moderating effects of positive relationships with pets and animal cruelty exposure

Roxanne D. Hawkins, Shelby Elaine McDonald, Kelly O'Connor, Angela Matijczak, Frank R. Ascione, James Herbert Williams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)
    37 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Background
    It is estimated that more than half of children living in households where intimate partner violence (IPV) occurs are also exposed to animal cruelty (AC). Although prior research links bonds with pets with higher levels of socioemotional competence among school-age children, exposure to AC may negate the protective effects of pet ownership and/or exacerbate the potentially deleterious effect of IPV on children’s mental health.

    Objective
    The current study evaluates whether and to what extent the associations between exposure to IPV and several indicators of children’s mental health vary as a function of children’s positive engagement with pets and exposure to AC.

    Participants and Setting
    Participants included 204 children (aged 7-12 years; 47% female; 57% Latinx) and their maternal caregiver who were recruited from domestic violence agencies in a western U.S. state.

    Method
    Multiple moderation analysis evaluated whether the association between children’s exposure to IPV and internalizing and posttraumatic stress symptoms vary as a function of children’s positive engagement with pets and exposure to AC.

    Results
    Analyses revealed several moderation effects for positive engagement with pets (e.g., internalizing problems: [b= -.15, t(195) = -2.66, p = .008]; posttraumatic stress symptoms: [b= -.13, t(195) = -2.24, p = .026]), whereas exposure to AC only moderated the association between IPV and anxious/depressed symptoms (b= .32, t(195) = -2.41, p = .017).

    Conclusions
    These findings highlight the potential protective effects of positive engagement with pets and importance of screening for exposure to AC when engaging in trauma-informed work with children exposed to IPV.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number104166
    Number of pages13
    JournalChild Abuse & Neglect
    Volume98
    Early online date12 Sept 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019

    Keywords

    • Domestic violence
    • Animal abuse
    • Childhood adversity
    • Trauma
    • Child psychopathology

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Exposure to intimate partner violence and internalizing symptoms: the moderating effects of positive relationships with pets and animal cruelty exposure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this