Date of Degree
Cathy Spatz Widom
Clinical Psychology | Developmental Psychology | Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence
childhood maltreatment, childhood neglect, coercive control, intimate partner violence, revictimization
Childhood maltreatment increases risk of revictimization in adulthood, although knowledge is limited. Very few studies focus on children with histories of neglect or include males. In addition, while some studies have begun to examine potential pathways from childhood victimization to adult revictimization, there is heavy reliance on data from cross-sectional or short-term longitudinal studies. This dissertation examines data from a large prospective cohort design study to examine potential mediators between childhood neglect and revictimization by an intimate partner in adulthood. Children with official records of neglect experienced before age 12 and non-maltreated children matched on the basis of age, sex, race, and approximate family social class were identified using court records from a Midwestern jurisdiction of cases that were processed between 1967 and 1971. The sample is approximately half male and half female and is approximately 60% White non-Hispanic and 40% Black and/or Hispanic. Participants were interviewed at mean ages 29.2 (N = 1,196) and 39.5 (N = 896). Potential mediators, including symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), dissociation, self-esteem, avoidant coping style, and self-efficacy, were assessed at mean age 29.2. The outcome variable – revictimization via intimate partner violence -- was measured at mean age 39.5. Childhood neglect increased risk of being revictimized by an intimate partner through coercive control and serious injuries. Avoidant coping in young adulthood was the only risk factor examined that partially mediated risk of revictimization by both coercive control and serious injuries. Symptoms of PTSD and low self-esteem in young adulthood also partially mediated the relationship between childhood neglect and coercive control revictimization. For women, low self-esteem, low self-efficacy, and use of avoidant coping in young adulthood predicted coercive control revictimization, while only avoidant coping predicted coercive control revictimization for men. For men, PTSD predicted being seriously injured by an intimate partner, while none of the potential mediators were significant predictors of serious injuries for women. For White individuals, neglect indirectly predicted coercive control revictimization through its effect on PTSD symptoms, dissociation, use of avoidant coping, and low self-efficacy. For Black individuals, dissociation increased risk of revictimization through serious injuries. Clinical implications for treatment of individuals with histories of childhood neglect are explored, and connections are drawn to existing treatments that could target the risk factors for revictimization identified in the present study. Future research directions are discussed, including the need for increased attention to survivors of childhood neglect in studies of revictimization.
Spizzirri, Rebecca M., "Childhood Neglect and Risk of Revictimization by an Intimate Partner: A Prospective Investigation of Mediational Pathways" (2019). CUNY Academic Works.