Children of battered women.

B. Westra, H. P. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Twenty children of physically abused women who were temporarily living in shelters were studied. These children, from 2 1/2 to 8 years of age showed significantly poorer cognitive, verbal, motor and quantitative abilities than would be expected in a normal population. They also demonstrated evidence of personality problems, with a concerning penchant for hostile-aggressive behavior. Hearing problems and articulation deficits were common. The children studied were from middle to lower-middle class families. The problems showed in this study group are felt to be an underestimate of the true prevalence of developmental and psychological problems in children of abused women. It is suggested that children are at a point of crisis just as admittedly few services available to abused women, there are even fewer services being provided to the children in such families. This is compounded by the relative unavailability of most recently assaulted women to attend to the emotional and developmental needs of their children. The need for health, developmental, and personality screening for children of abused women is highlighted, as well as the need for crisis intervention programs for such children. Groundwork has been laid through this research for more detailed clinical research to aid children of women who are physically abused. A greater appreciation of the problems encountered will facilitate appropriate interventions to optimize the growth and development of these children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalMaternal-child nursing journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1981


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