Intervening after intimate partner violence

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Schwartz, C., Waddell, C., Barican, J., Garland, O., Gray-Grant, D., & Nightingale, L. (2012). Intervening after intimate partner violence. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 6(4), 1–15. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Many children witness their parents or caregivers experiencing physical and emotional violence by an intimate partner. Exposure to IPV harms children, including leading to emotional and behavioural problems.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify interventions aimed at helping children exposed to IPV. Applying our inclusion criteria, we accepted five randomized controlled trials evaluating four programs.

Results: Three programs — Advocacy, Child-Parent Psychotherapy and Project Support — all produced at least one beneficial outcome for children. Advocacy reduced children’s contact with the perpetrator of the abuse and also increased children’s self-confidence. Child-Parent Psychotherapy significantly reduced children’s behaviour problems. Project Support reduced diagnoses of oppositional defiant and conduct disorders, behaviour problems and  emotional problems. As well, it reduced mother’s perpetration of physical abuse. In contrast, Nurse Case Management did not improve children’s outcomes.

Conclusions: This review finds that much can be done to help women help their children after they have experienced IPV. The three successful programs achieved positive outcomes for children by helping their mothers access needed resources, by providing mother with parenting education and by providing children with direct support. 

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