Patterns of adjustment among siblings exposed to intimate partner violence
Numerous studies have illustrated the elevated risk of short and long-term socioemotional problems of children who have been exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV). This study examines siblings’ perceptions of the mother-child relationship and whether views differ across patterns of adjustment. Participants, including families with a history of IPV and at least two siblings between five to 18 years, were recruited through community ads. Several variables (e.g., child externalizing problems, child internalizing problems, quality of the sibling relationship, quality of the mother-child relationship) were measured for association. Overall, five distinct adjustment patterns emerged. A notable difference between the younger and older sibling groups is self-esteem level. Results suggest that as children grow older they become more self-aware of their behavioural difficulties and perceive themselves less favorably. The mother-child and sibling relationships were found to play a significant, but different role in patterns of adjustment. Asymptomatic younger and older siblings reported warmer mother-child relationships, the absence of hostility in this relationship was especially important for older siblings. Similarly, a warmer and less hostile sibling relationship was important in distinguishing patterns of adjustment. Authors suggest the findings have important clinical implications and represent a better understanding towards developmental pathways for siblings in violent families.