Child maltreatment and intimate partner violence among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians

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Journal of Family Violence, 32(6), 607-619.

Indigenous peoples of Canada face an elevated risk of intimate partner violence (IPV) compared to non-Indigenous Canadians. Few empirical studies have been conducted to understand this elevated risk, and none have examined child maltreatment (CM) as a predictor. This study used data on a nationally representative sample of 20,446 Canadians to examine CM and proximal risk factors for IPV against Indigenous and non-Indigenous respondents. Results showed that Indigenous respondents had greater risk of experiencing both CM and IPV. All three forms of CM (exposure to violence, direct physical and/or sexual abuse victimization, as well as both exposure and direct victimization) were associated with increased odds of IPV in adulthood. CM along with proximal risk factors accounted for Indigenous peoples’ elevated odds of IPV (AOR = 1.62; NS). These results were consistent with the theory that Indigenous peoples’ elevated risk of IPV is largely due to effects of historical trauma from past and continuing colonization. Reducing Indigenous peoples’ disproportionate risk of IPV requires efforts to reduce CM and its negative developmental effects among Indigenous peoples as well as resolving the manifestations of historical and contemporary trauma within Indigenous society.

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