Children's exposure to intimate partner violence: Should sexual coercion be considered?

Ernest N. Jouriles, Renee McDonald, Nicole L. Vu, Kelli S. Sargent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This study examined whether male-perpetrated sexual intimate partner violence (IPV) directed at a child's mother is associated with children's adjustment problems and if sexual IPV increases risk for children's adjustment problems over and above the risk associated with physical IPV alone. Participants were a community sample of 539 mothers and their children (age 7-10 years). Mothers and children reported on children's externalizing and internalizing problems. Mothers reported on recent male-perpetrated physical and sexual IPV and on their own psychological distress (depressive symptoms, relationship dissatisfaction). Four groups were formed on the basis of mothers' reports of IPV: Nonviolent, physical only, sexual only, and sexual + physical. Children in the physical-only, sexual-only, and sexual + physical groups exhibited greater levels of externalizing problems than did children in the nonviolent group. Levels of externalizing problems among children in the physical-only and sexual-only groups did not differ. Including sexual IPV in the conceptualization of children's exposure to IPV may offer a more comprehensive understanding of how children are affected by IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-508
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Children's adjustment problems
  • Children's exposure to violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Sexual coercion
  • Sexual violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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