Psychology, Department of


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Published in Journal of Family Violence, Vol. 19, No. 6 (December 2004), pp. 377–385. DOI: 10.1007/s10896-004-0682-9 Copyright © 2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. Used by permission.


This study examined the relationship between childhood exposure to parental violence and adult psychological functioning in a sample of predominantly Mexican American participants. Questionnaires assessing childhood maltreatment, family environment, and current psychological symptomatology were completed by 142 female undergraduates. Findings revealed that witnessing parental violence in childhood was associated with depressive symptoms, low self-esteem, and trauma symptoms in adulthood, even after controlling for child physical and sexual abuse. However, in subsequent analyses, also controlling for levels of nonphysical family conflict, previous associations between exposure to parental violence and adult symptomatology were reduced, such that trauma-related symptoms remained the sole outcome still predicted by a history of witnessing parental violence. Implications of these findings, issues related to the use of statistical control procedures in abuse effects research, and directions for future investigation are discussed.