Reducing Maternal Intimate Partner Violence After the Birth of a Child

A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Hawaii Healthy Start Home Visitation Program

Early childhood interventions such as home visiting, which focuses on preventing maltreatment in very young children, also can reduce intimate partner violence.

The Hawaii Healthy Start home visitation program sends paraprofessionals into the homes of children at risk of abuse to teach families about child development, parenting and problem-solving strategies; and offer emotional support to new parents during the first three years of their child’s life. This study looked at what effect those visits had on rates of the mother’s intimate partner violence victimization and perpetration, physical assault, verbal abuse, sexual assault and injury.

During the three years of the home visiting program, women reported lower rates of intimate partner violence victimization and perpetration, compared with a control group. The researchers attribute two elements of the program to the decrease in intimate partner violence: the home visitor-mother relationship and the encouragement of self-efficacy.

Sexual violence, verbal abuse and injury were not significantly associated with either intervention or control groups.

Following up when the children were ages seven to nine, intimate partner violence decreased for mothers in both groups, although verbal abuse may have increased by those who received home visiting.