Supporting Mother-Infant Relationships Affected by Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is widely recognized to have profound effects on child development (Geffner, Igelman et al. 2003). However, some children from families with IPV develop well or are “resilient” in spite of this risk (Humphreys 1993; Rudo, Powell et al. 1998). The quality of relationships between mothers and their infants/children is a potent predictor of children’s future development, (Sumner and Spietz 1994; Shore 1997; McCain and Mustard 1999; Bornstein 2002). Recent research suggests that some mothers of preschool-age children exposed to IPV may be more sensitive and responsive to their children than other mothers (Levendosky, Huth-Bocks et al. 2003). This heightened sensitivity and responsiveness in relationships may be key to the successful development of some children exposed to IPV; however, this theory remains unexplored. Indeed, no research has been identified that explores:

  1. the relationships between mothers and infants exposed to IPV;
  2. the association between mother-infant relationships and infant development in families affected by IPV; and,
  3. the support needs, resources, barriers to support, and preferences for support intervention that promote mother-infant relationships, from either the perspectives of mothers affected by IPV or their service providers.

This project received $250,000 from the CIHR New Investigator Award $250,000.  Research is ongoing.


  • Nicole L. Letourneau, UNB (Principal Investigator)
  • Carmen Gill, Director, MMFC (Co-Investigator)
  • Kimberley Critchley, UPEI (Co-Investigator)
  • Miriam J. Stewart, U of A (Co-Investigator)
  • Loretta M. Secco, CBU (Co-Investigator)