Exposure to childhood abuse puts women at risk for revictimization in adult intimate relationships, but knowledge about the mechanism by which it occurs is limited. The present study investigated whether dissociation mediates the effect of exposure to physical or sexual child abuse on intimate partner violence in adulthood. We tested this using prospective data collected from birth to age 32 from 80 female participants in the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation. We found that women who experienced sexual or physical abuse during the first 17.5 years of life (n = 37) were more likely (r = 0.30, p <.01) to experience intimate partner violence in adulthood (ages 20–32). Furthermore, we found that dissociation partially mediated this effect. Specifically, exposure to childhood abuse predicted greater dissociation in late adolescence (age 19), which in turn predicted more intimate partner violence during early to mid-adulthood. The results of this study highlight the mediating role played by dissociation in the revictimization of women abused during childhood, and speak to the need to develop interventions designed to prevent intimate partner violence among abused girls or adult women with a history of abuse.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd
- Child abuse
- Intimate partner violence