All of the mothers reported experiencing physical IPV during the past year, with 61.5% reporting having been beaten up at least once. Seventy-five percent of mothers reported experiencing at least one act of sexual IPV during the past year, with 27.6% responding affirmatively to the item Used force to make me have sex. Mothers who experienced sexual IPV reported experiencing more physical IPV, t (232) = 7.62, p = .001, than did mothers who had not experienced sexual IPV. Means, standard deviations and correlations among the study variables are presented in .
Correlations, means and standard deviations for measures among the study variables (n = 449)
Correlations and t-tests were computed to examine the need to control for demographic variables (child sex, age, and minority status, and number of children in the home) in our hypothesis tests. Child minority status was associated with maternal psychological distress, t(447) = 2.02, p = .04, and with children’s disruptive behavior problems, t(447) = 4.04, p < .001. Child sex was also associated with children’ disruptive behavior problems, t(447) = 3.64, p = .003. Minority children and girls were reported to have lower levels of disruptive behavior problems. We thus included child minority status and sex as control variables in our analyses.
Sexual IPV, children’s disruptive behavior problems, and maternal psychological distress
As indicated in , the hypothesis that physically abused women’s experiences of sexual IPV would correlate positively with their children’s disruptive behavior problems was supported, r = .19, p < .001, as was the hypothesis that experiences of sexual IPV would correlate positively with the women’s own psychological distress, r = .29, p < .001.
Path analyses using MPlus Version 3 (Muthén & Muthén, 2005
) were used to evaluate the third hypothesis, that mothers’ psychological distress would mediate the associations between their experiences of sexual and physical IPV and their children’s disruptive behavior problems. depicts the model that was evaluated. Following guidelines of MacKinnon and colleagues (MacKinnon, Lockwood, Hoffman, West, & Sheets, 2002
; MacKinnon, Lockwood, & Williams, 2004
), mediation was established using the asymmetric distribution of products test to evaluate the statistical significance of the indirect effect from experiences of physical and sexual IPV to children’s disruptive behavior problems “through” maternal psychological distress, controlling for mother-child aggression, partner-child aggression, child sex, and child minority status. We used a 1000-replication bootstrap of the sample data to estimate bias-corrected 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the indirect effects. To interpret the magnitude of significant indirect effects, we report the proportion mediated (PM
) (Shrout & Bolger, 2002
denotes the proportion of the relation between the predictor variables (mothers’ experiences of physical IPV and sexual IPV) and disruptive behavior problems that is accounted for by maternal psychological distress, after accounting for the control variables. PM
is calculated by dividing the indirect effect (i.e., product of the hypothesized mediating pathways = αβ) by the total effect. Raw path coefficients were used in calculating effect sizes and confidence intervals. For ease of interpretation, standardized path coefficients are shown in the path model ().
Figure 1 Path model linking mother’s experiences of IPV to their children’s disruptive behavior problems. Standardized path coefficients are denoted. Mother-child aggression, partner-child aggression, child sex, and child minority status are control (more ...)
As indicated by the path coefficients in , mothers’ experiences of sexual IPV were positively associated with her psychological distress, b = .02, t(448) = 4.45, p < .0001, 95% CI [ .01, .03], which was in turn positively associated with children’s disruptive behavior problems, b = 1.13, t(448) = 4.27, p < .0001, 95% CI [.61, 1.64]. Conversely, mothers’ experiences of physical IPV were not associated with maternal psychological distress or with children’s disruptive behavior problems. Tests of the indirect effects indicated that maternal psychological distress partially mediated the relation between mothers’ experience of sexual IPV and their children’s disruptive behavior problems, total effect = .058, αβ (total indirect effect) = .02, 95% CI [.01, .04], p < .01, PM = .34 (i.e., .02 ÷ .056 = .34). Thus, 34% of the association between mothers’ experience of sexual IPV and children’s disruptive behavior problems was attributable to maternal psychological distress.