Introducing Ms Alison Fogarty, PhD student at Swinburne University.

November 9, 2016

The 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference will be held over 5-7 December at the Mercure Brisbane, QLD. Ms Alison Fogarty joins us to discuss ‘Factors predicting emotional and behavioural resilience in children exposed to intimate partner violence in early life’.

An estimated one million Australian children are exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) each year. Witnessing IPV has been associated with internalising and externalising difficulties in children.

Despite this, many children exposed to IPV demonstrate resilience. This study provides Australian data from a longitudinal study of 1,507 first-time mothers on the role of maternal wellbeing and depressive symptoms in buffering the impact of exposure to IPV during infancy. The children’s resilience is measured by their emotional and behavioural functioning at 4 years of age. Additional maternal, family and environmental factors were also analysed for significance. 15% of mothers had experienced IPV within the first 12 months of having their first child. Cross-classification of child emotional and behavioural functioning and maternal reported IPV was conducted to establish four distinct groups of children: (1) Resilient (exposed to IPV, good outcomes), (2) Less-resilient (exposed to IPV, poor outcomes), (3) Expected good (not exposed to IPV, good outcomes) and (4) Struggling (not exposed to IPV, poor outcomes).

Of those children who were exposed to IPV at 12 months of age, 37.5% displayed resilience. Logistic regression was conducted across two separate models to distinguish between factors which were unique in predicting resilience for those children exposed to IPV and factors resource factors which were associated with positive outcomes in both high and low risk children. The absence of further exposure to PV at 4 years of age significantly predicted resilience in children who were exposed, as did higher levels of maternal physical health and quality of life. Maternal factors appear to play an important role in promoting resilience in children who have been exposed to IPV. The results of this study highlight the need for further research to identify mechanisms within families which enable turning points resulting in reduced exposure to IPV for children.

Alison is a Clinical Psychology PhD student at Swinburne University. She is currently completing her doctoral thesis in partnership with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in the area of intimate partner violence, with a focus on understanding the maternal experience and promoting positive outcomes for children. Alison is conducting her research under the supervision of Clinical Psychologists Dr Katie Wood and Dr Jordy Kaufman from Swinburne University of Technology and Dr Rebecca Giallo from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

For more information on the 2016 STOP Domestic Violence Conference and to secure your registration, please visit the conference website.

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