Child witnesses and victims in homes with adult intimate partner violence. Academic Article uri icon


  • To determine demographics of children in homes to which police are called for intimate-partner violence (IPV) and to compare the relative risk of perpetrator versus victim for those who, as children, witnessed or were victims of IPV and sexual assault.Data from Resources, Inc. Victim Assistance Unit yearly intake statistics for 2004 were accessed. In this city with a population of approximately 500,000 people, police will call for an on-site advocate intervention (a trained social worker) at their own discretion for the adult or child victims of IPV and for children witnessing IPV. The social worker collects data on victims, perpetrators of IPV, and child witnesses or victims at all police calls for IPV. Comparisons were made by using chi-square, relative risks (RRs), and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).Police and advocates visited 2,038 homes for IPV calls; 2,617 children were in these homes. Of these children, 1,904 (76%) witnessed IPV, and 698 (27%) were victims themselves. Adult victims (31%) and perpetrators (41%) had high rates of having witnessed IPV when they were children. Perpetrators were more likely than victims to have witnessed IPV as a child (RR, 1.56; 95% CI = 1.37 to 1.78) and to have been a victim of IPV as a child (RR, 1.71; 95% CI = 1.49 to 1.96).In this study population, 76% of IPV households include children, and one third of these children also are victims of IPV. Perpetrators often were victims and witnesses of IPV when they were children. This suggests that a history of childhood IPV is common for perpetrators of IPV. Development of and research on interventions for child witnesses or victims of IPV is needed.

publication date

  • June 2006