Abstract:

This study by Rebecca L. Babcock Fenerci and Brian Allen investigated whether experiences of high betrayal trauma (BT; maltreatment by a parent/caregiver) during mothers’ own childhoods may influence the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment and its associated psychopathology from mothers to their children. A prospective, longitudinal design was utilized to assess maternal physical and sexual betrayal trauma in relation to children’s own maltreatment experiences, and child mood and behavioral symptoms during pre-adolescence. Data from 706 mothers and children who participated in the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) was analyzed, including: mothers’ physical and sexual maltreatment histories, child protective services’ documented physical and sexual maltreatment during children’s first twelve years of life, and mother- and child-reports of child internalizing and externalizing symptoms at age 12. Children of mothers who survived high BT (maltreatment by a caregiver) were 4.52 times more likely to experience maltreatment than children of no BT mothers (mothers whom were not maltreated), and 1.58 times more likely than children whose mothers survived low BT (maltreatment by a non-caregiver). These findings (and others) have implications for understanding the role of betrayal trauma in perpetuating the cycle of maltreatment across generations.

2018-07-18T09:28:48+00:00