The mental health of mothers in and after violent and controlling unions

Kate S. Adkins, Claire M. Kamp Dush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Studies have shown that intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with poor mental health. But, does women's, and specifically mother's, mental health improve after leaving a union marked by IPV? We used two waves of the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study (n=2610) to examine the association between IPV as measured by controlling and violent behaviors, and maternal mental health and union dissolution. Mothers in unions marked by IPV reported poorer mental health, became more depressed and maintained high levels of anxiety over time regardless of whether or not their union dissolved, compared to mothers who were in non-abusive unions. Mothers in stable non-abusive unions became more depressed over time, but at a lower magnitude than mothers in controlling and violent unions. Mothers in non-abusive unions that dissolved also became more depressed and anxious over time. Overall, we find that women are still at risk for mental health problems even after leaving IPV unions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-937
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Divorce
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Union dissolution


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