COLUMBIA, 8/3/11 (Beat Byte) -- Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to be in abusive relationships themselves and suffer psychological problems. But unique protective factors can help heal women exposed to physical abuse as children, claims Kim Anderson, associate professor in the MU School of Social Work.
Women whose mothers were employed full-time, for instance, have a better chance of recovery from witnessing domestic violence. "Mothers who work full-time, even in adverse situations, create economic stability and model a strong work ethic, independence and competence," Anderson (left) said. "This shows the importance of the bond between mothers and children and the importance of positive adult role models in the lives of children who have experienced abuse."
The mother's own mental health may also confer protection. "Children whose mothers do not experience mental health problems are less likely to have mental health problems of their own," Anderson said.
Given her findings that work can improve mental health among physically-abused women, Anderson recommends advanced job training and opportunities for higher education to help gain employment. "Most of the time, the immediate goal is to find women work rather than help them acquire skills that fit their interests," Anderson said. "Those jobs are often low-paying and don’t provide the economic sustainability that going back to school and getting a higher education would."
Her study, "Assessing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Resilience for Females Who During Childhood were Exposed to Domestic Violence" was published in the journal Child & Family Social Work.