Childhood exposure to inter-parental violence as a risk factor for intimate partner violence – a study on women in resource-limited settings in Nairobi, Kenya
Khaemba, Millicent Elizabeth Akinyi
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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a common and serious public health concern in many parts of the world. Exposure to psychological and physical abuse has been established as a risk factor for children‘s socio-emotional, behavioural, and cognitive problems (Cummings M, 2009). When parents fight, children may attempt to intervene in the violent episode resulting in physical, psychological, and emotional injury. One of the main reasons why gender based domestic violence (GBDV) and IPV do not recede has to do with poor reporting of incidences of violence. Increasing research on the area of domestic violence in Kenya has yielded information to help understand that this is an immense problem in our society. This study investigated the relationship between witnessing domestic violence in childhood and experiencing inter-partner violence in adulthood. It was a cross-sectional study with a sample size of 198 women. Participants of the study were married and unmarried women of low socioeconomic status, aged 18 and above. The study site was within the 8 villages of the Mukuru slums, in Nairobi, Kenya. The study used a mixed method (quantitative and qualitative) study. Data was collected using questionnaires and focus group discussions. Main Objective To determine the prevalence of Inter Parental Violence as a risk factor of Intimate Partner Violence. Methodology The study was a cross-sectional field-based study that used questionnaires and two focus group discussions. Convenience sampling was used for the quantitative part of the study and purposive sampling was used for qualitative. All eligible participants who consented were included in the study until the researcher achieved the desired sample size of 198 respondents. Focus group discussions were done until saturation was reached. Data was collected by administering a socio-demographic questionnaire, an intimate partner violence questionnaire; a researcher designed witnessing questionnaire, a learned helplessness questionnaire, and a focus group discussion for the qualitative arm of the research. Questionnaires were coded and the results were tabulated using Microsoft Excel. Quantitative data was analysed using the computer software SPSS Version 17 to reveal the emerging patterns and presented in the form of tables, bar charts and pie charts. Focus group discussions were recorded and transcribed. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the qualitative data. The researcher observed all ethical considerations. Results The average age of the 198 participants was 34 years; the youngest was 19 years old and the eldest 61 years old. Intimate Partner Violence prevalence within this population stands at 153 (77%). From this analysis, 116 (60%) respondents report witnessing inter-parental violence as children. The average age of those exposed to intimate partner violence was 36 years compared to 28 years for those who were not exposed. The youngest participant was 19 years old while the eldest was 61 years of age. Findings indicate that risk of exposure to intimate partner violence increases with age F=24[95% CI Interval for mean 34 – 37] p=<0.0001. 59 (50%) respondents born before 1980 witnessed inter-partner violence while 33 (28%) of those born between 1981 and 1990 witnessed violence in the home. Of those born after 1991, 26 (22%) witnessed inter-partner violence in childhood. Results indicate that witnessing interparental violence, age and marital status are strongly correlated to intimate partner violence in adulthood. Multivariate analysis demonstrate that older participants are more likely to experience violence with risk likely to increase by 7% with each increasing year in age OR=1.071[95%CI of OR, 1.02 – 1.12], p=0.002. Those married or in a relationship are twice as likely to report IPV in adulthood OR=2.1[95% CI of OR, 1.2 – 3.6], p=0.007. Participants who witnessed violence in their childhood are 3 times more likely to report IPV in adulthood OR=2.7 [95% CI of OR, 1.3 – 5.8], p=0.008. The study also found that approximately half (43%) the sample had moderate to high levels of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness has a strong positive correlation with exposure to IPV in adulthood (p=0.008). Focus group discussion results indicate that the contributing factors to intimate partner violence include economic hardship, alcohol and drug abuse, and traditional beliefs. Conclusion The study found a strong positive correlation between witnessing family of origin violence and violence in adulthood remained even after adjusting for confounders. The increasing age of the woman was also a high risk factor to exposure to intimate partner violence in adulthood. The null hypothesis was therefore rejected. The study also found strong correlations between being married or in a relationship and intimate partner violence.