Are children exposed to interparental violence being psychologically maltreated?

Eli Somer, Anat Braunstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on childhood witnessing of interparental violence is reviewed. Evidence is presented as to the severe developmental damages the witnessing covictims often sustain. These include: depression, anxiety, cognitive problems, delinquency, and proneness to violence and victimization. Parental failure to shield children from such traumatizing experiences constitutes child maltreatment in that it exposes the victims to (a) terrorizing, and (b) missocializing by corrupting models. Psychological maltreatment is even more potentially damaging than direct physical abuse or neglect alone. In light of the ambiguity in defining caregiver acts of psychological maltreatment, cases in which children have regularly watched wife battering are easier to identify than other forms of psychological maltreatment. Child protection agencies must give priority to responding to cases of psychological maltreatment of children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-456
Number of pages8
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Battered women
  • Child abuse
  • Psychological maltreatment
  • Spouse abuse
  • Witnessing violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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