Despite long-standing hypotheses that intimate partner violence (IPV) may undermine children's ability to form secure attachment representations, few studies have empirically investigated this association. Particularly lacking is research that examines IPV and attachment during middle childhood, a time when the way that children understand, represent, and process the behavior of others becomes particularly important. Using data from a sample of African American children living in rural, low-income communities (N = 98), the current study sought to address this gap by examining the association between physical IPV occurring early in children's lives and their attachment security during the first grade. Results indicate that, even after controlling for child- and family-level covariates, physical IPV was associated with a greater likelihood of being rated insecurely attached. This effect was above and beyond the influence of maternal parenting behaviors, demonstrating a unique effect of physical IPV on children's attachment representations during middle childhood.
- Manchester Child Attachment Story Task
- domestic violence
- intimate partner violence
- middle childhood
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)