Intimate partner violence victims as mothers: Their messages and strategies for communicating with children to break the cycle of violence

Emily R. Insetta, Aletha Y. Akers, Elizabeth Miller, Michael A. Yonas, Jessica G. Burke, Lindsay Hintz, Judy C. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Children whose mothers are victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) are at increased risk of adverse health and psychosocial consequences, including becoming victims or perpetrators of violence in their own relationships. This study aimed to understand the role mothers may play in preventing the perpetuation of violence in their children’s lives. We performed semistructured interviews with 18 IPV victims who are mothers and were living at the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh from July through November 2011. We sought to understand how they communicate with their children about IPV and relationships. These mothers described a desire to explain their IPV experience and offer advice about avoiding violence in relationships. As foundations for these discussions, they emphasized the importance of close relationships and open communication with their children. Although mothers are interested in talking about IPV and relationships and identify communication strategies for doing so, many have never discussed these topics with their children. These mothers need and want an intervention to help them learn how to communicate with their children to promote healthy relationships. Development of a program to facilitate communication between IPV victims and their children could create an important tool to empower mothers to break the cross-generational cycle of domestic violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-724
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Domestic violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Parent–child communication
  • Teen dating violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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