Mental health needs of children exposed to intimate partner violence seeking help from mental health services

Beatriz Olaya, Lourdes Ezpeleta, Nuria de la Osa, Roser Granero, Josep Maria Doménech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study is to examine whether children and adolescents exposed to interparental physical and environmental violence have specific needs when seeking public mental health services compared to non-exposed outpatients. The witnessing of intimate partner violence (IPV), psychopathology, functional impairment, and several individual and family variables were assessed in 520 children aged 8 to 17 years. Results showed that living with violent parents at home increased the child's risk of posttraumatic stress disorder, dysthymia, self-harming behavior, and functional impairment. Exposed children's mothers were more likely to overprotect their sons, punish their daughters and report greater psychopathology, whereas fathers who engaged in marital violence displayed greater emotional distress and were more likely to punish and reject their children. The child's sex moderated the IPV effects on parenting, parental discipline, child's life events and health appraisal. Given the specific clinical profile of exposed children, mental health services should develop schedules to detect, assess, and treat these cases. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1011
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010


  • Children and adolescents
  • Functional impairment
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Mental health services
  • Mother's and father's parenting style
  • Parent psychopathology
  • Psychopathology
  • Sex


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