Intimate partner violence was firstknown as a domestic violence that was done by a spouse or partner in anintimate relationship against the other spouse or partner. From the definition,we have now on IPV it has evolved and includes emotional and sexual violenceand is no longer exclusive to just a martial relationship. IPV now can includea current or former intimate partner, it can also take a number of forms,including physical, verbal, emotional, economic and sexual abuse.

When it comesto IPV, violence against a minor in the past meant that a man was just keepinghis child “in line.” For child maltreatment, laws didnot exist until 1875. The society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(SPCA) was the first organization to intervene on behalf of the children whowere being mistreated. The Houses of Refuge existed for delinquent kids andalso kids who were being maltreated.

In 1899, in Cook County, Illinois thefirst Juvenile Court was implemented. In the 1940s – 1950s, the second wave ofattention to child maltreatment was issued. By the 1960s, the American MedicalAssociation published a set presentation talking about battered child syndrome.By 1974, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was defined as child abuseand neglect. In the United States, exposer tointimate partner violence (IPV), were assaults done by the parents andwitnessed by children. In a survey, they tested the number of children andteens that were witnesses to violence by an adult household member. The resultsshowed, that there was an unacceptable rate on the number of children that areexposed to violence in the home.

At least, 1 in 9 people are exposed to sometype of family violence in the past year, including 1 in 15 people are exposedto IPV between their parents (OJJDP, 2011). Children who witness intimatepartner violence should be assessed immediately. Being exposed to IPV can beworrying to a child, and can be associated with mental health symptoms startingduring their childhood and leading to the adulthood. One study found that,among a sample of IPV offenders, those who were a child and saw a parent use aweapon were more likely to commit an offense involving a weapon than as anadult (Murrell et. Al., 2005). Despite documented evidence of the consequencesthat comes from being exposed to IPV there is still a growing discussion onappropriate policies to respond to being exposed to IPV.

In the second NationalFamily Violence Survey conducted in 1985, Straus and Gelles asked adults ifthey had witnessed IPV during their childhood and their results showed that 13percent were exposed to IPV as a child (Straus, 1992). The most direct form of exposure isseeing or direct eye witnessing, it could also include lower levels of exposurewhich is hearing. Seeing the violence means that a child is present, by havingthe child in the room could also put the child in danger, having witnessed theviolence there is no error in interpretation.

For example, a child could be inanother room while the violence is being done. Which means they are hearingwhat is going on and not witnessing anything. Because they are just hearingchildren may mistake the violence for just noise from the television, or, theymight not even hear the assault happening even though they are in the same houseor apartment. Even though children may not bewitnesses to the violence when it occurs they can be aware after the fact, forexample, seeing the injures afterwards. This type of exposure will usuallycoexist with the assault because most injuries eventually heal. Children can betold about the assault after it occurs or even years after depending on whenthe child starts see the harm done to the victim. Several authors havediscussed this type of exposure other than direct eyewitness of children’s totalexposure to family violence (Fantuzzo and Mohr, 1999; Holden, 2003)nevertheless, there have not been nationally representative data on this typeof exposure.

There are four different types ofexposure in a hierarchical fashion from most to least direct: eye witnessing orseeing violence, hearing but no seeing it, seeing injuries afterwards but notseeing or hearing the actual assault, and being told about the violence withoutany of the above. Eye witnessing the is the most immediate type of exposurewhich can account from 65 to 86 percent. In the study done in 2006, byMcDonald and colleagues, an analysis was done to see that if IPV was done inhousehold with children, then the children were going to be exposed toviolence, which they thought would be unlikely given that violence in ahousehold tends to be private. While in a survey done by NatSCEV compared workdone by Straus (1992) and Zinzow (2009) and found that even if violence actsdone in a household are private there are still possibilities of exposure. According the OJJDP (2011), therehave been comprehensive national estimates about children being exposed to IPVand other types of family violence that have several important ramifications.

First, they provide a new more scientific ground basis on which education,advocacy, and public policy can be advanced with authority and urgency. Second,they provide a safe place to study and monitor the direction of IPV, whileprofessionals and policymakers try and reduce the amount of people that areexposed to family violence. Third, they try to have a more sympatheticunderstanding of all types of people who are exposed to IPV and other types offamily violence. There tends to be a higher rate of both internalizing andexternalizing problem that come from children being exposed to IPV than peoplewho were not exposed to IPV, which could then lead to maladaptive andbehavioral development problems. IPV is underestimated and researchers are notseeing the full impact that can come out of IPV. Children being exposed to IPVcan hamper the development of the child.

The following studies will give abetter understanding to the negative effects and long-term damage that childrengo through when witness IPV during their childhood. 

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