The Complexity of Trauma Types in the Lives of Women in Families Referred for Family Violence: Multiple Mediators of Mental Health


Responding to calls for further research about the impact of multiple types of trauma across the life span, this study examines the interconnections among types of trauma in childhood and adulthood in a convenience clinical sample of 283 women obtaining social services for family violence. In particular, variables including family of-origin dysfunction and other childhood risk factors, relationship victimization in adulthood, and the presence of adult resources were examined as mediators of links between child maltreatment and adult mental health symptoms. Variables were assessed at different time points, 3 years apart. Path analysis revealed that the conceptual model of multiple pathways between childhood family violence exposure and adult outcomes fit the data well. In particular, the link between child maltreatment and adult trauma symptoms was mediated by more proximal adult sexual and intimate partner violence and its association with childhood risk markers (e.g., negative family environment) and decreased markers of resources. This link was not significant for a more general index of mental health symptoms in adulthood.


Psychology, Prevention Innovations Research Center Pubs

Publication Date


Journal Title

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



2008 American Orthopsychiatric Association