Long-Term Risks of Intimate Partner Violence and Adverse Childhood Events

Long-term Risks of Intimate Partner Violence and Adverse Childhood Events
By  Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

Women who experience domestic violence with an intimate partner are more likely to experience depression, PTSD, and to engage in risky sexual choices.  Many of these women have also experienced “adverse childhood events” (ACE).  This study was among the first to examine the relationship between intimate partner violence and trauma in childhood (http://bit.ly/AdverseChildhoodEventIPV).

More specifically, adverse childhood events are identified as:  “witnessing maternal and paternal intimate partner victimization; childhood physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; and physical and emotional neglect.”  The study included 212 women ages 18 to 58, who had experienced “low ACE”, “moderate ACE”, or “high ACE”.

Results clearly indicate that women who have higher levels of ACE end up with more depressive symptoms, PTSD, and riskier sexual behaviors of their own.  Thus, it is important to explore with a woman who experiences depression, PTSD, or the risks of less safe sexual choices whether she is also experiencing violence with an intimate partner, or has had a childhood history of adverse events.  The current struggles may well be a manifestation of other issues and/or childhood issues not yet addressed.  Developing enough trust and rapport in therapy is an essential part of allowing this exploration and deeper kind of help.

A previous article under my therapist profile, “How Does Stress Impact Childhood Development”, explores these issues more from a childhood development perspective.  This particular study provides more data to substantiate the long-term impact of such experiences for young children.  Many studies indicate perhaps as many as one in three women experience sexual assault, harassment, or abuse in their lives at some point.  Helping adults who are experiencing partner violence helps that individual of course, but also is greatly helpful to any children exposed to this family suffering.

Dr. Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310  539-2772 or dralanms@gmail.com

Copyright 2018 by  Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.