Witnessing intimate partner violence: Review of the literature on coping in young persons
Keywords:intimate partner violence, young people, children, resilience, coping strategies,
Since the mid 1980s, there has been increasing concern about the impact that witnessing intimate partner violence (also commonly known as domestic violence or spouse abuse) has on children and young persons. In an article published in Social Work Review in 1994, Pamela Millen reviewed the international literature on children who witness such abuse and reported on strategies for intervening to ameliorate the negative consequences. This article updates her literature review, attending in particular to strengths-based and ecological perspectives that have emerged over the ensuing 15 years.
Social work research and literature on dealing with trauma has come to increasingly emphasise resilience (the capacity to bounce back from adversity), protective factors (buffers against the effects of trauma) and coping (managing difficulties). This focus on resilience is also encouraging a closer look at the perspectives of survivors, including survivors of childhood abuse. In-depth qualitative research has been undertaken with children and young people in order to gain a better understanding of their perspectives and coping strategies for dealing with the challenges of living with intimate partner violence, including their use of resources in the environment. Meanwhile, quantitative research has looked at relationships between a wider array of variables, raising questions about previous simple ‘cause and effect’ conclusions about the impact of intimate partner violence on children and young people. Research and literature that specifically address issues for young persons as differentiated from children remains scant.
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