How children's adjustment is affected by their relationships to their mothers' abusers

Cris M. Sullivan, Jennifer Juras, Deborah Bybee, Huong Nguyen, Nicole Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although researchers have begun to examine the long-term impact of exposure to domestic violence on children, most studies focus exclusively on the mother-child dyad in examining children's adjustment. The presence and behavior of the abuser has been noticeably absent, even though such variables are likely to relate to children's well-being. This study presents evidence that the abuser's relationship to the child (whether he is the biological father, stepfather/father figure, or nonfather figure) is an important variable in understanding children's adjustment. Although level of physical abuse of the children did not differ by group, stepfathers were more emotionally abusive to the children and the children reported being more fearful of them, compared to the other two groups of abusers. Biological fathers were the most emotionally available to the children, yet these children reported lower self-competency compared to children whose mothers' abusers were not their father figures. Research and policy implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-602
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of interpersonal violence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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