The Implications of Violent and Controlling Unions for Mothers' Mental Health in Fragile Families

Kate S Adkins, Ohio State University

We use two waves of the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study to examine links between non-violent/non-controlling, controlling-only, and controlling/violent unions, dissolution, and mental health. We find that mothers in controlling-only and violent/controlling unions have significantly greater odds of being clinically depressed and more depressive and anxious symptoms than do mothers not experiencing control or violence. These mothers are also more likely to dissolve their relationships over a two-year time frame. Mothers who remain in controlling/violent unions have 115% greater odds of becoming clinically depressed, 684% greater odds of becoming clinically anxious, and 474% greater odds of experiencing an increase in anxious symptoms when compared to mothers who remain in non-violent/non-controlling unions. Mothers who dissolve these controlling/violent unions also experience significant increases in poor mental health compared to mothers in non-violent/non-controlling unions, as do mothers who dissolve a non-violent/non-controlling union. Implications for future violence and union dissolution research are discussed.

  See paper

Presented in Session 32: Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse