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The Relationship Between Paternal Characteristics and Child Psychosocial Functioning in a Sample of Men Arrested for Domestic Violence

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Abstract

It is estimated that upward of 15.5 million children live in homes where they are exposed to physical and psychological intimate partner violence (IPV). Research indicates that IPV can have deleterious effects on children, including a variety of psychosocial problems, although there is much variability in outcomes of children exposed to IPV. Individual characteristics of the parents involved in IPV may be an important predictor of negative psychosocial outcomes for children. The current study expanded upon prior research and examined the simultaneous associations of paternal characteristics, including paternal IPV perpetration, and child psychosocial functioning (i.e., externalizing, internalizing, and attentional problems) among 153 men arrested for domestic violence and court ordered to attend batterer intervention programs. Analyses examined the relations between paternal alcohol and drug use, antisocial personality traits, hostility, posttraumatic stress symptoms, distress tolerance, IPV perpetration, and men's ratings of their child's psychosocial functioning. Results indicated that poor overall child psychosocial functioning was positively related to paternal antisocial personality symptoms and hostility. Subscale analyses revealed that child attentional problems were positively related to paternal hostility. Child externalizing problems were positively associated with paternal antisocial personality symptoms. The implications of these findings for future research and intervention are discussed.

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