The Effects of Cumulative Childhood Victimization, Intimate Partner Violence, and Homelessness On Adolescent Mothers' Depression
Methods: Participants (N = 206) were recruited from three community sites that serve pregnant or parenting adolescents, and surveyed about their childhood experiences with physical abuse by a caregiver, witnessing IPV (both assessed using the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale [CTS 2]), and sexual victimization (Russell’s child sexual abuse framework); IPV victimization (CTS 2); homelessness history; and current depression symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale). Using the three childhood victimization variables, we used Ward’s method of hierarchical agglomerative clustering followed by K-means cluster analysis to identify five cluster profiles: HiAll (high victimization across all three types), HiFV (high physical abuse by caregiver and witnessing IPV), HiWIPV (high witnessing IPV), HiSV (high sexual victimization), and LoAll (low victimization across all three). We used Mplus 6 to conduct path analysis and estimate the indirect, direct, and total effects.
Results: There were significant differences by cluster in IPV victimization, F(4, 204) = 12.22, p = .000, homelessness history, χ2(4, N = 206) = 18.09, p = .001, and depression, F(4, 202) = 9.37, p = .000. In general, HiAll and HiFV had significantly higher levels of IPV victimization, HiAll had a significantly higher rate of homelessness history, and LoAll had a significantly lower level of depression, in comparison to the other four clusters. Both HiAll and HiFV had significant indirect effects pathways to depression (b = 1.88, p = .002, 95% CI 1.45 to 4.49, and b = 1.48, p = .003, 95% CI 1.97 to 4.53, respectively), in comparison to LoAll.
Conclusions: In order to better understand how victimization shapes poor outcomes among high-risk adolescents, we must identify distinct profiles of cumulative victimization rather than simply counting forms of victimization. Among adolescent mothers who have experienced high levels of family violence, depression symptoms might be best understood as the result of a chain of risks linking cumulative victimization, IPV victimization, and homelessness history.