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Resilience Among Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: The Role of Risk and Protective Factors


  • This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice (8-7958-MI-IJ) and Centers for Disease Control (R49/CCR/518519-03-1) to the second, third, and fourth authors. Portions of this paper were presented at the Society for Research in Child Development biennial meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, in March 2006.

concerning this article should be addressed to Cecilia Martinez-Torteya, Clinical Psychology, Michigan State University, Psychology Building, East Lansing, MI. Electronic mail may be sent to


Individual and family characteristics that predict resilience among children exposed to domestic violence (DV) were examined. Mother–child dyads (= 190) were assessed when the children were 2, 3, and 4 years of age. DV-exposed children were 3.7 times more likely than nonexposed children to develop internalizing or externalizing problems. However, 54% of DV-exposed children maintained positive adaptation and were characterized by easy temperament (odds ratio [OR] = .39, d = .52) and nondepressed mothers (OR = 1.14, d = .07), as compared to their nonresilient counterparts. Chronic DV was associated with maternal depression, difficult child temperament, and internalizing or externalizing symptoms. Results underscore heterogeneous outcomes among DV-exposed children and the influence of individual and family characteristics on children’s adaptation.