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Child Welfare ResearchAdvances for Practice and Policy$

Duncan Lindsey and Aron Shlonsky

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304961

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304961.001.0001

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A Descriptive Study of Intimate Partner Violence and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Child Welfare Policy

A Descriptive Study of Intimate Partner Violence and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Child Welfare Policy

(p.154) 9 A Descriptive Study of Intimate Partner Violence and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Child Welfare Policy
Child Welfare Research

Lynette M. Renner

Kristen Shook Slack

Lawrence M. Berger

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Using survey and administrative data, this chapter presents analyses of co-occurring intimate partner violence (IPV) and child maltreatment allegations in a sample of current and former welfare recipients (N = 1,011). Results show a co-occurrence rate of six percent within an approximate one-year time interval. In the subgroup of families with co-occurring IPV and child maltreatment allegations (n = 65), sixty-eight percent of investigated maltreatment reports involve the female IPV victim as a perpetrator. Findings also show that multiple forms of IPV and child maltreatment should be considered when assessing co-occurrence. Compared to families that experience one or neither form of family violence, families with both IPV and child maltreatment allegations have higher levels of parental depression and stress, greater use of harsh discipline, lower parental warmth, and poorer parental physical health. Results from this study are relevant to systems that serve families experiencing IPV and child maltreatment, and for interventions designed to improve family safety.

Keywords:   child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, co-occurring violence, child abuse, family violence


Both intimate partner violence (IPV) and child maltreatment have long been recognized as critical social problems that affect the well-being of children and their caregivers. In recent years, increasing attention has been given to the association between IPV and child maltreatment, driven in part by a growing body of research on the co-occurrence of these phenomena. This association has also emerged as an important practice issue, which is complicated by insufficient knowledge about the mechanisms that link IPV and maltreatment and by tensions between child welfare professionals and battered women’s advocates over the rights and protection of children and the rights and safety of victimized women (Fleck-Henderson, 2000 ; Magen, Conroy, & Del Tufo, 2000 ; Peled, 1997 ; Wilson, 1998 ).

Although both fields focus on stopping violence in the family, sources of tension arise from disagreement over whom to focus the intervention on and how to intervene. Child protection agencies are mandated to assure that children are safe, which sometimes requires removing children from a home where IPV is occurring, while battered women’s advocates argue that children should not be separated from the nonabusive parent (Fleck-Henderson, 2000 ). Battered women’s advocates adopt an adult victim-centered approach and seek to use law enforcement as a means to protect women who are abused, while child welfare professionals adopt a child-centered approach that can result in “blaming the victim” of IPV and deemphasizing the effects of IPV on the adult victim (Jones & Gross, 2000 ). Battered women’s advocates also support a woman’s decision to either remain in or leave an abusive relationship, while child welfare professionals may require a mother to leave an abusive relationship or face the legal consequences of “failing to protect” her children (Beeman, Hagemeister, & Edleson, 1999 ). Even if her children are removed, a woman who is abused may remain at the mercy of the perpetrator. Furthermore, the threat of child removal (p.155) may deter women in abusive relationships from seeking help.

In the child welfare system, there is a need for knowledge about how to most effectively work with families reported for child maltreatment when IPV is also present. Current recommendations for improving interventions in this area include targeting practice strategies (e.g., screening for domestic violence during child protection intake or developing child safety plans in collaboration with the adult victim of domestic violence), cross-systems policies, staff training, and increased collaboration between domestic violence organizations and child welfare agencies (Child Welfare League of America, 1999 ; Ganley & Schechter, 1996 ; National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, 2001 ; National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1999 ; Spears, 2000 ). Although professionals who provide domestic violence services and child protective services (CPS)1 are finding common ground and working in partnership in some areas of the country (see examples of “model initiatives” in Bragg, 2003 ; see also Friend, chapter 8 in this volume), differences in practice philosophies, resources, and goals can give rise to counterproductive efforts and even conflicts between these service systems (Beeman, Hagemeister, & Edleson, 1999 ). Such incongruencies raise questions about “best practices” in interventions with families who experience IPV and child maltreatment.

In the present chapter, we contribute to the knowledge base on the intersection of IPV and child maltreatment in several ways. First, we review existing theoretical models that seek to explain the co-occurrence of IPV and child maltreatment. Second, we offer needed descriptive information about the nature of co-occurring IPV and child maltreatment in families during a relatively short time interval (i.e., approximately 1 year), as well as additional characteristics of families experiencing both IPV and child maltreatment. Third, we explore how several indicators of parenting characteristics and well-being (e.g., physical health, depressive symptoms, parenting stress, parental warmth, and discipline strategies) vary according to whether families experience IPV, child maltreatment, both, or neither. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings for child welfare practice, particularly as it pertains to the recent trends in failure-to-protect allegations against adult caregivers who are the victims of IPV.

Although our study is descriptive in nature, it is a necessary step in building the knowledge base about families who experience both IPV and child maltreatment. Results suggest that most co-occurrence involves alleged child maltreatment by the IPV victim, and not by the perpetrator of IPV. About one third of the child maltreatment investigations in this sample name someone other than the primary caregiver as the alleged perpetrator. In our data, approximately half of the child maltreatment allegations for families also experiencing IPV are substantiated,2 and the rates of physical abuse and neglect allegations are similar. Among families with co-occurring IPV and child maltreatment, nearly all involve psychological forms of IPV, and about 60% involve physical IPV. IPV victimization is strongly associated with differences in parenting characteristics and well-being, suggesting an indirect link between IPV and child maltreatment that requires more explicit attention in child welfare policy.

Definitions and Prevalence of IPV and Child Maltreatment

There is currently no consensus as to how broad or narrow the definition of IPV should be or how specific components (e.g., physical or emotional abuse or violence) should be defined (Gelles, 2000 ). The past few decades have seen an evolution in terminology, from wife beating, to spouse abuse, marital violence, or domestic violence, and, most recently, to intimate partner violence. In this study, we use the term intimate partner violence to broadly indicate the occurrence of any of a range of psychological or physical forms of maltreatment between current or former adult romantic partners. We use this term because it is generally more inclusive of a wider range of behaviors and relationships than the other terms listed above. For example, it can be used in reference to current or former spouses, cohabiting or dating partners, and opposite-sex or same-sex partners, as well as to describe the victimization of both men and women (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2005 ). Estimates from the National Crime Victimization Survey suggest that the majority of IPV victimization is against women; indeed, IPV accounts for 20% of all nonfatal violent crimes against women (Rennison, 2003 ). However, it is important to note that males and individuals involved in same-sex relationships may be less likely to report IPV victimization (Dutton & Nicholls, 2005 ; National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2001 ).

Several existing data sources have been used to estimate the incidence and prevalence of IPV. Data from (p.156) the National Family Violence Survey, a nationally representative sample of about 6,000 households in 1985, indicated that just over 16% (or one out of six) of American couples experienced at least one incident of physical assault3 in the year preceding the survey (Straus & Gelles, 1990 ). Straus and Gelles ( 1990 ) also found that 11.6% of husbands carried out at least one violent act toward their wife and that 12.4% of wives carried out at least one violent act toward their husband during the reference year. Data from the Commonwealth Fund, a sample of about 2,850 women and 1,500 men, suggests that 31% of women reported being physically or sexually abused (i.e., that a spouse or boyfriend had ever thrown something at them; pushed, grabbed, shoved, or slapped them; kicked, bit, or hit them with a fist or some other object; beat them up; choked them; or forced them to have sex against their will) by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives (Collins, Schoen, Joseph, Duchon, Simantov, & Yellowitz, 1999 ). Data from the National Violence Against Women computer-assisted telephone survey of 8,000 women and 8,000 men aged 18 and older revealed that 7.7% of women reported being raped, 22.1% reported being physically assaulted, and 4.8% reported being stalked by a current or former intimate partner at some time in their life (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000 ).

Comparing information from national data systems and self-report surveys, estimates of the annual rates of violence against women range from 7.5 to 117 per 1,000 women (Gelles, 2000 ). Annual prevalence rates are often higher among low-income women. For example, reviews of several studies have found lifetime and past-year victimization rates among female recipients of welfare to exceed 23% and 74%, respectively, with most studies reporting lifetime prevalence rates in the 50–60% range and recent rates in the 20–30% range (Tolman, 1999 ; Tolman & Raphael, 2000 ).

Child maltreatment has been defined according to numerous typologies (Barnett, Miller-Perrin, & Perrin, 2005 ; Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996 ); however, most experts agree that broad categories of child maltreatment include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse. In 2005, an estimated 3.6 million children received an investigation by child protective services (CPS),4 and approximately 899,000 children were determined to be victims of child maltreatment (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007 ). Child victimization rates (typically approximated with the ratio of substantiated reports of maltreatment over the number of minor children in the U.S. population) have steadily declined in recent years. Between 2001 and 2004, the victimization rate dropped from 12.5 to 12.0 per 1,000 children under the age of 18. It increased to 12.1 in 2005, largely due to the addition of data from Alaska and Puerto Rico (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007 ).

Of substantiated cases of child maltreatment in 2005, approximately 63% involved neglect, 17% involved physical abuse, 9% involved sexual abuse, 7% involved psychological maltreatment, and 2% involved medical neglect (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007 ). In addition, 14% were associated with other forms of maltreatment, such as abandonment or threats of harm (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007 ). These categories are not mutually exclusive, since children may experience multiple forms of maltreatment. It is likely, however, that children reported to CPS represent only a fraction of those who are victimized. The general consensus among researchers in the field is that the majority of child maltreatment incidents go undetected by the child welfare system (Waldfogel, 1998 ).

Children’s Exposure to IPV

It is estimated that 10–18 million children are annually exposed to IPV (Straus, 1992 ; Holden, 1998 ). Exposure to IPV has been shown to be associated with adverse behavioral, cognitive, and social outcomes in children. Compared to children not exposed to IPV, research has found that children exposed to IPV display increased levels of externalizing behavior problems, such as aggression (Hughes, 1988 ; Kernic, Wolf, Holt, McKnight, Huebner, & Rivara, 2003 ), increased levels of internalizing behavior problems, such as depression and anxiety (Davis & Carlson, 1987 ; McCloskey & Lichter, 2003 ; Sternberg, Lamb, Greenbaum, Cicchetti, Dawud, Cortes, Krispin, & Lorey, 1993 ), deficits in social competence (Davis & Carlson, 1987 ; Moore & Pepler, 1998 ), poorer physical health (Onyskiw, 2002 ), and poorer academic skills (Stagg, Wills, & Howell, 1989 ).5 However, the evidence supporting a causal link between exposure to IPV and adverse outcomes is unclear. Furthermore, several researchers have cautioned that the lack of consistent definitions of IPV and child maltreatment is an impediment to accurately assessing forms of violence and comparing (p.157) their incidence across studies (Appel & Holden, 1998 ; Edleson, 1999b ).

Co-Occurrence of IPV and Child Maltreatment

An extensive review of studies that address the co-occurrence of IPV and child maltreatment suggests that rates of overlap are typically between 30% and 60%, although estimates range from 6.5% to 100% (Appel & Holden, 1998 ; Edleson, 1999b ), depending on the design of the study and the scope of the measure used to assess IPV. The most common approach to collecting data on co-occurrence involves samples of battered women or child maltreatment victims, from which the percentage who simultaneously experienced another form of family violence is then estimated (Appel & Holden, 1998 ; Edleson, 1999b ). Such studies, often described as being based on clinical samples, usually utilize case record data to access detailed information on the nature of family violence; such data are sometimes supplemented by self-report surveys. A second strategy involves the use of population-based or representative community samples (Gelles & Straus, 1988 ; McGuigan & Pratt, 2001 ; Renner & Slack, 2006 ), which usually collect self-reported survey data or combine self-reported survey data and child welfare administrative data. Due to variations in sampling methods, the amount of overlap between IPV and child maltreatment can differ greatly across studies. In addition, studies differ as to whether they are estimating the co-occurrence of IPV and child maltreatment in the year prior to the interview or over the course of the respondent’s lifetime. This further complicates comparisons across studies (Appel & Holden, 1998 ).

In clinical samples of either IPV victims or maltreated children, the rate of co-occurrence has been estimated to exceed 50% (O’Leary, Slep, & O’Leary, 2000 ). Appel and Holden ( 1998 ), in a review of 31 studies, note an overlap ranging from 10% to 100% in studies using data from battered women and an overlap of 26–59% in studies using data based on reports of child physical abuse. Some studies have found that children are more likely to be abused when there is a history of IPV in the family (Bowker, Arbitell, & McFerron, 1988 ; Stark & Flitcraft, 1988 ). Using a 1-year cohort of cases reported to CPS in Washington state, English, Edleson, and Herrick ( 2005 ) found IPV to be indicated in one out of five CPS referrals, present in 38% of cases which were investigated, and identified in 47% of cases assigned a high standard of investigation.6

Data from the 1975 National Family Violence Survey and the 1986 National Family Violence Resurvey suggest the rate of co-occurring IPV and child maltreatment to be 5.6–6.9% (Hotaling, Straus, & Lincoln, 1990 ) among intact families with children. More recent studies involving representative samples of high-risk populations have found slightly higher rates of co-occurrence. Using data from Longitudinal Studies on Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN), Cox, Kotch, and Everson ( 2003 ) found that slightly more than one quarter of the families in a high-risk subgroup experienced both a child maltreatment report and IPV. In a study based on the CPS population of the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), Hazen, Connelly, Kelleher, Landsverk, and Barth ( 2004 ) found that 44.8% of female caregivers experienced IPV in their lifetime and that 29% of female caregivers experienced IPV in the 12 months prior to the interview. The authors also report that having a history of prior substantiated reports significantly increases the likelihood of severe physical IPV.

The co-occurrence of IPV and child maltreatment is not limited to disadvantaged populations. In a study of 550 undergraduate (287 women, 263 men) students, Silvern et al. ( 1995 ) found that 61 women (21%) and 36 men (14%) reported exposure to both parental partner abuse and child physical abuse during their lifetime. IPV is also predictive of future maltreatment. For example, McGuigan and Pratt ( 2001 ) found that IPV occurring within the first few months of a child’s birth was a significant predictor of subsequent substantiated reports of child maltreatment through a child’s fifth year of life.

In considering the various estimates of the overlap between IPV and child maltreatment, it is important to note that studies involving families identified through either the CPS system or shelters for battered women represent only those cases of IPV or child maltreatment that have come to the attention of social services. As such, they likely represent the more severe cases of child maltreatment and potentially include a select group of women experiencing IPV (Edleson, 1999b , 2001 ). Furthermore, estimates of co-occurrence tend to be higher in clinical samples than in community samples.


In addition to understanding the extent to which different forms of family violence co-occur, it is important to consider how such relationships develop. IPV may co-occur with child physical abuse if the perpetrator of IPV also uses harsh physical discipline or force with the children in the home. It may also stem from the IPV victim’s efforts to overdiscipline children in an attempt to avoid conflict with an abusive partner, or from the adult victim’s diminished tolerance for, or ability to manage, parenting stresses (Coohey, 2004 ). Violence between adults may also lead to child neglect if the abused partner experiences mental health problems or stress associated with victimization that, in turn, result in neglectful parenting (Carlson, 2000 ; Coohey & Zhang, 2006 ; Hartley, 2004 ).

Both unidirectional and bidirectional models of co-occurrence have been proposed (Appel & Holden, 1998 ). In unidirectional models, both the IPV and child maltreatment are perpetrated by one parent or partner (Appel & Holden, 1998 ). In its simplest version, one parent (or partner) acts as the sole perpetrator of violence, while the other parent (or partner) and the child(ren) are the targets of abuse. A variation on this model involves instances where an abused adult victimizes her or his child. Such “sequential” abuse is not necessarily caused by IPV victimization, however.

Bidirectional models include a “marital” violence model (which can be easily applied to nonmarital partnerships) and a family dysfunction model (Appel & Holden, 1998 ). In a bidirectional model, violence within a marital model is reciprocal between the partners, and one or both adults may be abusive or neglectful toward children; however, such a model does not account for an imbalance of power between genders. The family dysfunction model captures multiple interactions and exchanges of abusive behavior between both adults and child(ren) and does not view children as passive recipients of maltreatment. Rather, IPV is viewed as a risk factor in the development of a child’s behavior problems, and a child’s behavior, in turn, may fuel parents’ aggression toward the child, ultimately resulting in abuse or neglect (Appel & Holden, 1998 ).

Although many studies have identified associations between IPV and child maltreatment, few have attempted to differentiate subtypes of either IPV or child maltreatment (Edleson, 2001 ). A notable example of a study that distinguished maltreatment types is McGuigan and Pratt ( 2001 ), in which IPV was shown to be associated with child maltreatment reports for physical abuse, neglect, and psychological abuse. In another study involving married U.S. military families, IPV was found to be associated with subsequent physical and sexual abuse, but not with child neglect (Rumm, Cummings, Krauss, Bell, & Rivara, 2000 ). Other research has reported associations between severe IPV and allegations of lack of supervision, as well as between IPV and child neglect (Hartley, 2002 ; Shepard & Raschick, 1999 ). It is possible that these associations are partially driven by failure-to-protect allegations (discussed in the following section) involving IPV victims. On the whole, however, existing literature suggests that IPV is associated with multiple forms of child maltreatment, although findings are inconsistent regarding specific maltreatment types. Additionally, most studies have not identified whether alleged child maltreatment perpetrators have been the perpetrator or victim of the co-occurring IPV (Edleson, 2001 ).


Since IPV and child maltreatment are often addressed by separate social service systems, the goals and strategies for intervening with families served in each system may not be congruent (Beeman, Hagemeister, & Edleson, 1999 ; Cowan & Schwartz, 2004 ; Edleson, 1999b ). Family violence experts have, however, documented efforts by state and local child protective and IPV systems to comprehensively address the needs of all family members (Edleson & Beeman, n.d.; Findlater & Kelly, 1999a , 1999b ; Lecklitner, Malik, Aaron, & Lederman, 1999 ; Whitney & Davis, 1999 ). For example, a study by Kohl, Barth, Hazen, and Landsverk ( 2005 ) showed that identification of IPV by a child welfare worker during the risk assessment process increased the likelihood of the caregiver receiving IPV services compared to those in families not identified by a child welfare worker. This type of finding reinforces the need to focus on the safety and well-being of all family members and to strengthen collaborations and partnerships among social service, health care, judicial, and law enforcement agencies (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1999 ).

(p.159) Historically, CPS interventions have focused on the primary caregivers of alleged child victim(s), most often mothers. Yet, some evidence suggests that, although mothers are generally more likely to be involved with CPS, fathers or male partners are the perpetrators of the most severe forms of abuse (Edleson, 1999b ). Thus, the focus on mothers has generated a debate about gender bias in CPS interventions, particularly with regard to women being charged with “failure to protect” in cases that involve IPV (Burke, 1999 ; Mills, 2000 ). According to Magen ( 1999 , p. 130):

There are two erroneous assumptions made by professionals when considering the circumstances of battered women and their children. The first is the belief that witnessing abuse is innately child maltreatment. The second is the belief that battered women should leave the batterer and the abusive situation. These two assumptions, by themselves or together, lead to poor practices on the part of child maltreatment professionals.

In addressing the first assumption, Magen ( 1999 ) goes on to state that although exposure to IPV may lead to negative outcomes for some children, such associations are not necessarily causal. He also notes that “given our knowledge about the complexities of child development, it is simplistic to engage in linear thinking that witnessing domestic violence causes these negative responses” (Magen, 1999 , p. 130), particularly since exposure to IPV is often not the only negative event in the lives of the children under study. Indeed, not all studies on exposure to IPV indicate that it is associated with adjustment problems for children (Carlson, 2000 ).

With regard to the second assumption, Magen ( 1999 ) states that the concept of failure to protect focuses on a victim’s behavior rather than the abuser’s actions, such that women are often expected to leave abusive situations for the sake of their children, regardless of how this may impact their own safety. Aron and Olson ( 1997 ) further state that charging an abused mother with failure to protect her child does not acknowledge that a child’s safety depends on addressing the situation endangering both the mother and the child. The formal removal of children from an abusive home can assist in keeping some members of a family safe but may not provide the woman with protection from an abusive partner and, therefore, may not adequately address the needs of all family members.

Compared to families with child maltreatment only, Beeman, Hagemeister, and Edleson ( 2001 ) find that the majority of families with co-occurring child maltreatment and IPV are assessed as having exposed children to unsafe and dangerous situations and having a disregard for safety. Such findings may be warranted. Several studies offer evidence of an interactive effect of exposure to IPV and child maltreatment on children’s emotional and behavioral problems (Hughes, Parkinson, & Vargo, 1989 ; Wolfe, Crooks, Lee, McIntyre-Smith, & Jaffe, 2003 ), and the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect ( 1995 ) states that domestic violence is a significant risk factor for child abuse and neglect fatalities. However, others have documented great variability in children’s responses to IPV (Edleson, 2004 ) and suggested that removing children from homes in domestic violence cases may be unnecessary (Bragg, 2003 ). While some child protection workers argue that removal from the home where IPV exists is a necessary intervention to ensure a child’s safety, domestic violence advocates often view this method of child protection as unfairly penalizing or blaming battered caregivers for unsuccessful attempts at child protection (Bragg, 2003 ; Matthews, 1999 ; Shepard & Raschick, 1999 ). In addition, parents who are abused by their partners may be to admit to IPV in their relationship and to seek help for fear of being charged with failure to protect under such policies (Bragg, 2003 ).

Despite the unsettled debate between CPS and domestic violence advocates, women are increasingly being charged with failure to protect in situations where a partner is abusing both the woman and the children (Beeman, Hagemeister, & Edleson, 1999 ; Edleson, 1999b ), and some states have considered making children’s exposure to IPV a form of criminal abuse (National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1999 ). Several states have also considered legislation or adopted policies mandating responses to all child welfare cases with co-occurring IPV and child maltreatment (Edleson, 2004 ; Kantor & Little, 2003 ; National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1999 ; Weithorn, 2001 ; White, 2003 ). For example, in 1999, the Minnesota state legislature expanded the state’s definition of child neglect to include exposure to domestic violence. However, in light of the tremendous influx of child maltreatment reports that followed this change, the statutory definition was repealed in 2000 (Edleson, Gassman-Pines, & Hill, 2006 ). In Nicholson v. Scoppetta, the New York Court of Appeals (p.160) ruled in 2004 that children cannot be deemed to be “neglected” simply by virtue of exposure to domestic violence (Freedman & Kramer, 2004 ; Sheppard & Poris, 2005 ).

Such policy developments suggest that questions remain about the most effective strategies for serving families experiencing IPV and child maltreatment. The goal of the present study is to contribute to an understanding of the family dynamics associated with different and co-occurring forms of family violence, which may inform the development of more appropriate assessments and interventions.


The analyses presented in this chapter address the following three research questions:

  1. 1. What forms of IPV and child maltreatment most frequently co-occur?

  2. 2. To what extent are IPV victims identified as alleged perpetrators of maltreatment in families with co-occurring IPV and child maltreatment?

  3. 3. How do indicators of parenting and well-being (e.g., physical health, depressive symptoms, parenting stress, parental warmth, and discipline strategies) vary across families experiencing child maltreatment only, IPV only, and both phenomena?

Data Sources and Sample

The data for this study are drawn from combined survey and administrative sources. The primary source of survey data comes from the Illinois Families Study (IFS), a 5-year panel study of current and former Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients from nine counties in Illinois, which together capture over three quarters of the state’s TANF population. The IFS sample (N = 1,899) was selected from the 1998 TANF caseloads in these counties. The present study uses data from the first three waves of the IFS. The first wave of survey data collection occurred in late 1999 and early 2000. Data collection for subsequent survey waves occurred in 2001 and 2002. The response rate for the first wave was 72% (N = 1,363); retention rates for the second and third waves were 87% (N = 1,183) and 79% (N = 1,072), respectively. Analysis weights were created to adjust for sampling stratification and survey nonresponse (see Lewis, Shook, Stevens, Kleppner, Lewis, & Riger, 2000 ; Slack, Holl, Lee, McDaniel, Altenbernd, & Stevens, 2003 , for additional details regarding the study design).

Child protective services records were made available through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and have been linked to the survey data used in this study. These administrative data include investigated maltreatment allegations characterized by maltreatment type, report date, and alleged perpetrator. IFS survey respondents were asked to consent to ongoing access to child maltreatment data; 93% of IFS respondents provided this consent. The 102 respondents who did not grant permission for administrative data access were excluded from these analyses. In addition, 39 cases with male respondents were excluded from these analyses, given the low representation of male respondents in the sample.

Statistical analyses (not shown) comparing the effective sample (N = 1,011) with the 352 wave 1 survey respondents who were excluded from these analyses because they were male, did not consent to administrative data access, and/or did not participate in subsequent survey waves did not yield statistically significant differences on most key demographic factors or on indicators of IPV (although males reported lower rates of IPV than did females). However, respondents included in the final sample reported higher levels of parental stress, higher levels of depression, and poorer overall physical health compared to those excluded from the final sample. In addition, respondents included in the final sample tended to have given birth to their first child at a younger age and had more children than did excluded respondents. This may suggest that respondents retained in the analysis sample are more disadvantaged than those in the original IFS sample.


Child Maltreatment

Reports involving investigated allegations of maltreatment included allegations of physical abuse (e.g., burns/scalding; wounds; bone fractures; excessive corporal punishment; cuts, bruises, and welts; human bites; sprains/dislocations), allegations of neglect (e.g., inadequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision), and both indicated (i.e., substantiated) (p.161) and unfounded allegations. Illinois does not have a failure-to-protect allegation category. In addition, our measures of child maltreatment allegations identify whether the primary caregiver in our sample, typically the mother, is the alleged perpetrator of the child maltreatment. Due to their low incidence rates, allegations of child sexual abuse and emotional abuse were not included in the analysis.

Allegations of child maltreatment were timed according to the dates of each IFS survey and the referent period for self-reports of IPV victimization. For example, questions on IPV victimization in wave 1 referred to the 12-month period prior to the wave 1 survey interview (IPV items in waves 2 and 3 referred to the months between consecutive waves, e.g., questions on IPV victimization in wave 3 referred to the time period between wave 2 and wave 3). Child maltreatment reports that fell within each of these time periods were then identified and extracted from the state’s CPS administrative data. Child maltreatment allegations were aggregated across families so that allegations involving any child in the family were included.

Intimate Partner Violence

Survey respondents’ experiences with physical and psychological intimate partner violence were assessed for each IFS respondent with respect to the 12 months prior to each interview. Data on IPV are based on self-reports of the survey respondent.7 Items addressing physical violence were adapted from the Massachusetts study of women on welfare (Allard, Albelda, Colten, & Cosenza, 1997 ), the Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979 ), and the Women’s Employment Study (WES) (Danziger, Corcoran, Danziger, & Tolman, 1997 ). Additional items were taken from the Women’s Experience of Battering (WEB) Scale (Punukollu, 2003 ), a 10-item scale that examines the cognitive and affective experience of battering.

An indicator of physical violence and an indicator of psychological violence were created for each survey interval. Items assessing physical IPV included questions such as: Has your current or former spouse or partner hit, slapped, or kicked you? Thrown or shoved you onto the floor, against a wall, or down stairs? Hurt you badly enough that you went to a doctor or clinic? Items assessing psychological IPV included questions such as: Has your current or former spouse or partner tried to keep you from seeing or talking with your friends or family? Told you that you were worthless or called you names? Made you feel unsafe in your own home? If the respondent provided an affirmative response to any items on the physical or psychological IPV scales, this indicated the presence of IPV.

Respondent and Family Characteristics

Several respondent (i.e., primary caregiver) and family characteristics were included in the analysis to assess which variables may be correlated with intimate partner violence and/or child maltreatment. During the wave 1 IFS interview, respondents provided information on the following: age, race and ethnicity, education level, employment and welfare histories (derived from state administrative data systems), number of biological and/or adopted children, and age at the time of their first child’s birth.

All survey waves produced measures of depression, parenting stress, parental warmth, perceived social support, discipline practices, and general physical health. Depressive symptoms are measured using the 12-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) (Ross, Mirowsky, & Huber, 1983 ). The CES-D assesses several components of depressive symptomatology, including depressed mood, feelings of worthlessness, sleep disturbance, and loss of appetite, and respondents indicate how many days (0 = less than 1 day, 3 = 5−7 days) out of the past week they experienced each symptom. A summary score is included in the analysis as a continuous variable. (Cronbach’s alpha is greater than .80 in all survey waves.)

Parental stress is assessed using an eight-item modified version of the Parental Stress Index (Abidin, 1983 ), which was created for the Women’s Employment Study (Danziger et al., 2000 ). Survey respondents were asked to rate their feelings over the past 12 months and to indicate how often they felt stress and pressure due to being the primary caregiver for their children. Parental warmth is measured using items adapted from the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment and the Canadian Self-Sufficiency Project (Caldwell & Bradley, 1984 ; Statistics Canada, 1995 ). The five scale items assess the frequency with which parents played games with their children, praised their children, and did something special with them over the past 12 months. A summary scale of both parental stress and warmth are included in the analysis (Cronbach’s alpha was above .70 for both measures, in all survey waves). Three items of parental discipline (p.162) practices are assessed using items adapted from the Women’s Employment Study (Danziger et al., 2000 ), which were based on the New Chance Study (Quint, Bos, & Polit, 1997 ). Scores range from 3 to 12, Cronbach’s alpha = .73, and higher scores indicate harsher discipline practices. This measure of child discipline strategies was collected in wave 1 only.

Perceived social support is measured using items adapted from Orthner and Neenan ( 1996 ) and the Three-City Study (Winston et al., 1999 ). Items determine whether or not the respondent has enough people, too few, or no one to count on for material and emotional support. Overall physical health is measured using a single item, which reflects the respondent’s assessment of her own health. The response options range from 1 = poor to 5 = excellent.

Table 9.1 presents the sample characteristics for the key demographic and family characteristics assessed at wave 1 of the IFS. The average age of women in the sample was approximately 32 years. About 79% of respondents were African American, and 59% had earned a high school diploma or GED. On average, earnings and incomes were quite low; the mean household income in the year preceding the wave 1 survey interview was $8,363, and the average earnings over the 4-year period 1995–1998 was less than $10,000. The average cumulative duration of TANF receipt between 1980 and 1998 was greater than 6 years. Eight percent of the sample reported both IPV and child maltreatment (with approximately 6% reporting that both occurred in the same or consecutive waves and 2% reporting that they occurred in different or nonconsecutive waves) during the three waves of data collection (an approximate 36-month interval). An additional 21% had investigated reports of child maltreatment but no IPV, and 17% reported IPV during the study period but had no CPS involvement. Over half (55%) of the sample respondents reported neither form of family violence. The scores for parenting and parental well-being (averaged across waves) are also presented.


To address the first two research questions regarding the frequency with which various forms of IPV and child maltreatment co-occur and the extent to which IPV victims are identified as child maltreatment perpetrators in families experiencing the co-occurrence of IPV and child maltreatment, a subgroup of sample members (N = 65; 6% of the full sample) was identified who experienced both IPV and a CPS investigation within an approximately 1-year period.8 For the 11 sample members who experienced IPV and a CPS investigation in more than one survey interval, the first episode of co-occurrence was selected. Descriptive statistics on child maltreatment allegations, IPV, and the work and relationship status of the respondents and their partners were assessed at the end point of each relevant survey interval.

To address the third research question, which aims to describe how indicators of parenting and well-being vary across families with different IPV and child maltreatment statuses, the full (N = 1,011) sample was employed. A categorical variable was created to capture each mutually exclusive combination of IPV and child maltreatment. In the analyses that follow, we utilize four IPV/child maltreatment–related indicators: no IPV or CPS reports in any survey interval; at least one CPS report, but no self-reported IPV; self-reported IPV but no CPS reports; both IPV and CPS reported at some point during the observation period. We also examined this final category separately according to whether the IPV and CPS report occurred within the same survey interval or in different survey intervals. We collapsed these categories because most (N = 25) of the 44 respondents in the latter category experienced IPV and CPS in contiguous survey waves. Furthermore, results from one-way ANOVA tests did not detect significant differences between the “across-waves” and “within-wave” co-occurrence groups. One-way ANOVAs were conducted to test for differences in key demographic variables and indicators of respondents’ parenting and well-being. For measures that were repeated in each wave (i.e., parenting stress, parental warmth, depression, social support, and overall health), scores were averaged across the three survey waves, since analyses within each wave produced highly similar associations between these measures and indicators of IPV and child maltreatment.


Co-Occurrence of IPV and CPS Intervention

Table 9.2 shows descriptive statistics for the co-occurrence subgroup. The majority of investigated CPS reports (68%) involved the mother (the IPV (p.163)

Table 9.1 Descriptive Statistics for Full Sample (N = 1,011)


Mean (SD) or Percentage

Demographic variables

Respondent’s age in wave 1

31.5 (8.2)


Non-Hispanic Black


Non-Hispanic White




Respondent earned high school diploma or GED, as of wave 1


Age at birth of first child

19.56 (3.8)

Sum of earnings (1995-1998)

$9,768 ($18,729)

Number of quarters with earnings 1995–1998

4.18 (4.83)

Cumulative number of months receiving TANF (since 1980)

80.5 (33.7)

Total household income in 19981

$8,363 ($7,943)

IPV and child maltreatment (wave 1-wave 3)

No IPV or CPS in any wave


CPS in any wave, no IPV


IPV in any wave, no CPS


IPV and CPS occurring in different and nonconsecutive waves


IPV and CPS occurring in the same or consecutive waves


Parenting and parental well-being2

Parental stress (range: 8–32)

15.2 (3.7)

Parental warmth (range: 5–20)

17.7 (1.7)

Parental depression (range: 0–36)

5.4 (5.8)

Social support (range: 6–18)

10.4 (1. 7)

Harsh discipline (range: 3–12)

5.8 (1.8)

Overall physical health (range: 1 = poor, 5 = excellent)

3.6 (1.0)

(1.) IFS respondents reported income data in ranges on a survey item consisting of 15 categories (e.g., less than $2,500, $2,500–$4,999, etc.). We created a continuous income variable by assigning each respondent the midpoint of the range she reported. The 2 respondents reporting income in the top category ($50,000 or more) were assigned a value of $65,000.

(2.) These numbers represent parenting and parental well-being scores averaged across survey waves.

victim) as the alleged perpetrator of child abuse or neglect, and just over half of these reports were indicated upon investigation. This rate is notably higher than the indication rate for the sample as a whole (37% of those with a CPS allegation). Sixty-six percent of the CPS allegations associated with these families involved allegations of physical abuse; however, neglect allegations were equally prevalent (65%). Nearly all (95%) of these respondents reported psychological IPV, and 61% reported physical IPV.

One finding that deserves mention is that the distribution of co-occurrence across the three survey waves suggests a relatively low incidence in wave 1 compared to subsequent survey waves. This may reflect the fact that in wave 1, questions about IPV (p.164)

Table 9.2 Descriptive Statistics for Co-Occurrence Subgroup (N = 65)


Mean or Percentage

IPV/CPS variables


In wave 1


In wave 2


In wave 3


CPS allegation associated with respondent/caregiver


CPS allegation associated with person other than respondent


Status of CPS allegation was “indicated”


Allegation of child neglect


Allegation of child physical abuse


Respondent experienced physical IPV


Respondent experienced psychological IPV


Demographic variables

Respondent receiving TANF


Respondent working more than 10 hours/week


Respondent’s partner working part or full time







Dating, not cohabiting


Not in intimate relationship


Cohabiting relationship/marriage ended within past year


Partner not biological father of any of respondent’s chil-dren


Number of children (<18 years) living in respondent’s home


were asked by the interviewer and directly answered by the respondent, whereas in subsequent waves, respondents completed a confidential questionnaire that was sealed in an envelope and returned to the researchers. This change in measurement mode, coupled with respondents’ increasing familiarity with IFS personnel over time, may suggest an underreporting of IPV in wave 1.

The bottom panel of Table 9.2 shows that approximately 40% of the respondents in this group received TANF and slightly less than half were working 10 or more hours per week at the end of the survey interval. Respondents had, on average, 3.4 minor children, 17% were married, 12% were cohabiting with an unmarried partner, and 15% were dating but not cohabiting with a partner. Forty-eight percent of those with a partner at the end of the survey interval were involved with someone who was not biologically related to any of the children in the home. Interestingly, 57% were not involved in any partnered relationship at the end of the survey interval, and 25% had ended a relationship within the past year. One possible explanation for this is that parents experiencing IPV and child maltreatment move in and out of relationships with relative frequency. Another possibility is that IPV victimization is not being perpetrated by current intimate partners, but rather by former partners who remain in the lives of respondents.

Since a significant proportion of IPV victims in this sample reported leaving a relationship within the past year, and over half reported no current relationship, we also explored whether IPV predicts the disso- (p.165) lution of intimate partnerships. Specifically, we used logistic regression to predict relationship dissolution among individuals who reported being in a relationship in wave 2 (N = 454); the outcome analyzed was the odds of not being in a relationship as of the wave 3 survey interview. The results for these analyses (not shown) did not suggest that IPV was associated with relationship dissolution, although other factors (such as welfare receipt, having a high school education, and being unemployed at wave 2) did predict this outcome.

Parenting and Well-Being Differences by Subgroup

Table 9.3 presents the results related to parenting and parental well-being by IPV/CPS category for the full sample (N = 1,011). Results from the one-way ANOVA yielded statistically significant overall differences among the four groups with respect to parental depression, physical health, stress, harsh discipline, and social support. Post hoc Scheffé comparisons indicated several differences among the groups, which are indicated in the table. For example, average parental stress scores were highest among respondents experiencing both IPV and CPS intervention and lowest among respondents with no IPV or CPS intervention. Similar results were found with respect to all other parenting and parental well-being variables. Women included in the IPV/CPS group reported the highest depression, parental stress, and harsh discipline scores, as well as the lowest scores on overall physical health. Conversely, women included in the no-IPV/no-CPS group reported the lowest scores for depression and harsh discipline and the highest physical health and social support scores. This pattern also held true with respect to the measure of parental warmth; however, the group differences were not statistically significant.

Statistically significant overall group differences were also found with respect to earnings (1995–1998) and number of children (results not shown). Respondents in the no-IPV/no-CPS group had more earned income and higher household incomes, on average. The CPS-only group had, on average, the most children in their care. Results from chi-square tests (not shown) also indicated statistically significant subgroup differences by race, with the majority (54%) of non-Hispanic White respondents present in the no-IPV/no-CPS group and lower representation in the IPV-only group. Chi-square tests showed no statistically significant (p < .05) subgroup differences for Hispanic or African American respondents.


This study used data on current and former welfare recipients in Illinois to address three questions related to co-occurring IPV and child maltreatment (operationalized as CPS intervention). First, we described the types of IPV and maltreatment allegations that most frequently co-occur. We found that, among families experiencing both IPV and CPS, the vast majority (95%) experienced psychological IPV and nearly two thirds experienced physical IPV. These families had similar rates of child physical abuse and child neglect allegations (approximately two thirds of this group of families experienced each of these types of maltreatment). Second, we examined the extent to which IPV victims were identified as the alleged perpetrators of child maltreatment among families experiencing both IPV and CPS intervention, finding that the child maltreatment perpetrator was most often the IPV victim. Other studies have reported higher rates of child maltreatment among IPV victims compared to nonvictims (Holden, Stein, Ritchie, Harris, & Jouriles, 1998 ; Straus & Gelles, 1990 ). Such findings are suggestive of a sequential model of co-occurrence in which an abused partner (in this case, an abused woman) is abusive or neglectful toward her children, although our data do not allow us to fully test such a model.9 Importantly, while we were able to use CPS allegations to determine whether or not the victim of IPV was the reported perpetrator of child maltreatment, for those allegations not associated with the primary caregiver (i.e., IFS respondent), we were not able to determine the relationship of the perpetrator to the child.

Another finding pertaining to the co-occurrence subgroup surrounds the rate of indicated CPS allegations. Compared to the full IFS sample, the subgroup experiencing both IPV and child maltreatment had a greater rate of indicated CPS allegations. This may suggest that child maltreatment occurs at a more extreme level in families in which IPV is also present. Conversely, it may be that CPS workers are more likely to substantiate cases in which IPV is present, perhaps in order to shield children from exposure to IPV. There is (p.166)

Table 9.3 Frequencies and Means by IPV/CPS Subgroup (N = 1,011)

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Mental Health, Physical Health, & Parenting

IPV & CPS (N = 100)

CPS only (N = 195)

IPV only (N = 169)

No IPV or CPS (N = 547)


Depression, summed score (mean) [range: 0–36]

10.08 [2, 3, 4 * ]

5.21 [1, 3 * ]

7.46 [1, 2, 4 * ]

4.20 [1, 3 * ]


Overall physical health (mean) [range: 1 = poor, 5 = excellent]

3.25 [2, 4 * ]

3.65 [1 * ]


3.69 [1 * ]


Parental stress, summed score (mean) [range: 8–32]

17.51 [2, 3, 4 * ]

15.66 [1, 4 * ]

15.81 [1, 4 * ]

14.45 [1, 2, 3 * ]


Parental warmth, summed score (mean) [range: 5–20]






Harsh discipline, summed score (mean) [range: 3–12]

6.40 [4 * ]



5.63 [1 * ]


Social support, summed score (mean) [range: 6–18]

9.60 [2, 4 * ]

10.43 [1, 3 * ]

9.83{2, 4 * }

10.64 [1, 3 * ]


(*) Group mean is significantly different from mean of other group(s) at p < .05 level.

considerable debate about such practices in the child welfare field. Unfortunately, our data lack detailed information on the circumstances leading to a formal CPS investigation and whether or not an incident of IPV is intertwined with an incident of child maltreatment. As such, we are unable to determine whether or not the child maltreatment report and the IPV represent the same incident or independent events. However, Illinois does not have a failure-to-protect statute defining exposure to IPV as a reason for substantiation. Thus, if, in practice, families are being substantiated for children’s exposure to IPV, this is not a result of official policy in the state.

Our data suggest that psychological IPV is extremely prevalent in families with co-occurring IPV and child maltreatment. Additionally, our results show that, in families with co-occurring IPV and CPS involvement, 61% of women experience physical IPV, 66% of families are associated with a physical abuse allegation, and 65% of families are associated with an allegation of child neglect. These findings imply that multiple forms of IPV, as well as multiple forms of child maltreatment, should be considered when assessing rates of co-occurrence.

We also described differences in caregiver characteristics (mental health, physical health, and parenting) for families with various IPV/CPS patterns. We found that families experiencing both CPS investigations and IPV tended to have worse scores than most other categories of families on nearly all of these measures, followed by those with only IPV, those with only CPS, and those with neither IPV nor CPS (although differences between subgroups were not always statistically significant). The only exception to this is related to parental warmth, which did not yield statistically significant associations with any of the IPV/CPS categories. It is important to note that these bivariate estimates do not necessarily represent causal effects. We have no evidence as to the causal direction of these associations. It is plausible that families who score worse on mental health and parenting measures (e.g., stress) are more likely to select into violent relationships. However, it is also possible that IPV may heighten stress, which in turn increases the likelihood of child maltreatment. The presence of other stressors may also exacerbate the effects of IPV on parenting. This possibility is supported by Margolin and Gordis ( 2003 ), who found that women’s child abuse potential is low when husband-to-wife aggression is isolated, but high when combined with additional financial and parental stressors. Finally, other factors for which we have not controlled may explain these associations. For example, Coohey ( 2004 ) found that battered mothers who physically abused their children were more likely to have been abused by their own mothers during childhood, had poorer quality relationships with family members, and experienced more stressful life events than battered mothers who did not physically abuse their children and than mothers who abused their children but did not experience IPV.

(p.167) A considerable strength of this prospective study is that the sample is not drawn from the child welfare or domestic violence service systems, which has been a limitation of many previous studies on co-occurrence (Edleson, 1999b ). Instead, the sample is drawn from a population that has been shown to be at greater risk for IPV and for CPS intervention—welfare recipients (Nagel, 1998 ; Slack et al., 2003 ; Tolman & Rosen, 2001 ). In addition, nearly 80% of the study respondents are African American and another 12% are Hispanic. In his review of studies assessing co-occurring family violence, Edleson ( 1999b ) highlights the scarcity of studies of the co-occurrence of IPV and child maltreatment that include significant samples of families of color.

Twenty-nine percent of the sample had a CPS investigation over approximately 3 years, and 25% of respondents experienced IPV (see Table 9.1 ). Yet, only 8% of families in this sample experienced violence against women and alleged child maltreatment over the 3-year study period. This is similar to co-occurrence rates reported in other community-based samples.


The failure-to-protect maltreatment category is widely debated in the child welfare and legal literatures. Some argue that maltreatment allegations of this type are punitive to the IPV victim. Yet, some IPV victims will abuse or neglect their children or will be unable to effectively protect and care for their children, as our findings suggest. While we were not able to assess IPV perpetration among the women in our sample nor were we able to determine if a mother’s partner was reported for child maltreatment, we found that mothers were cited as the alleged perpetrator in the majority of child maltreatment investigations. Because both men and women may be perpetrators and victims of IPV and both parents may maltreat their children, more comprehensive assessments regarding the parenting of both IPV victims and perpetrators are needed to better understand the complex nature of co-occurring victimization. In addition, the potential of child maltreatment within partnered relationships that include IPV requires more thorough assessments of family characteristics (e.g., poor health, parenting stress) which may potentially influence negative parent-child relationships or increase the likelihood of child maltreatment. Families experiencing co-occurring or single forms of family violence require interventions directed at all family members in order to determine the most effective route of intervention. The safety of family members is routinely the primary goal for child welfare workers and domestic violence advocates alike. A better understanding of the potential indirect links between IPV and child maltreatment (via the IPV victim) will aid workers and advocates from both service systems in fostering the safety of all victimized family members, while maintaining the integrity of the family unit whenever possible.

Overall, the results of this descriptive study imply that families with co-occurring forms of violence have multiple needs and require services from both the CPS and domestic violence systems. Adult victims of IPV confront the challenge of ensuring safety for their children while attempting to protect themselves from further abuse. And, IPV victims who become involved with CPS face the possibility that their children will be removed from their homes due to their perceived (or actual) inability to provide protection. Yet, requiring IPV victims to end significant partnered relationships or to seek protection orders in an attempt to lessen children’s exposure to IPV and future child maltreatment may not be the most effective intervention, particularly if these relationships are likely to dissolve on their own over a relatively short time period (as our descriptive evidence suggests). In working to meet these families’ needs and to ensure child safety, CPS and domestic violence workers should adopt strengths-based total-family interventions which hold abusers solely accountable for their actions while simultaneously helping all victims of IPV to secure protection and safety (National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, 2001 ; Spears, 2000 ). To improve safety and stability for children, CPS interventions should attempt to mitigate the adverse consequences caused by the abuser while concentrating on the ongoing needs of the child and adult victims (Bragg, 2003 ; National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators, 2001 ). This strategy should lead to improved family functioning and well-being, which ultimately serve as the optimal form of child protection.



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(1.) We use the term “child protective services” to refer to the intake and investigation end of the larger child (p.168) welfare system. Our discussion on the intersection of IPV and child maltreatment is focused on this segment of the child welfare system.

(2.) In Illinois, the focus of the present analysis, the term “indicated” is used, rather than substantiated, for investigated allegations of child maltreatment that are confirmed or highly probable.

(3.) These rates reflect “any” violence. Straus and Gelles ( 1990 ) report that most of the assaults were “minor” (e.g., pushing, slapping, shoving, throwing things) but that 6.3% of couples experienced at least one incident of “severe” violence (e.g., kicking, punching, stabbing, choking).

(4.) This number reflects investigations from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007 ).

(5.) Comprehensive reviews on the effects of children’s exposure to IPV are provided in Carlson ( 2000 ), Edleson ( 1999a ), Fantuzzo and Lindquist ( 1989 ), Kolbo, Blakely, and Engleman ( 1996 ), and Mohr, Lutz, Fantuzzo, and Perry ( 2000 ).

(6.) Under the Washington CPS decision model, referrals are assigned an initial level of risk ranging from 0 (no risk) to 5 (high risk). Risk levels of 3–5 receive a high standard of investigation and risk levels of 1–2 receive a low standard. See English, Edleson, and Herrick ( 2005 ) for additional details.

(7.) In wave 1, self-reports of IPV were disclosed directly to the survey interviewer; in waves 2 and 3, self-reports were obtained with a confidential questionnaire that respondents completed on their own.

(8.) An additional 2% of the sample experienced both IPV and CPS involvement, but not within the same 1-year period.

(9.) It is important to note that, in some states, the victim of IPV could be considered a perpetrator of child maltreatment based solely on her decision not to (or her inability to) leave an abusive relationship and thereby her “failure to protect” her children. Although Illinois does not have a failure-to-protect category for child maltreatment, it is possible that, in practice, some IPV victims in Illinois may be labeled child maltreatment perpetrators for reasons associated with ongoing IPV in the household (which is then categorized as some other form of maltreatment rather than as failure to protect). However, our data cannot speak to this. We discuss this further below.