Mothers abused by intimate partners: Comparisons of those with children placed by child protective services and those without

Leslie M. Tutty & Kendra Nixon - Children and Youth Services Review


In Western Canada, 504 mothers with children 18 years and younger participated in a study of the impacts of intimate partner violence (IPV). Of these, 68 (13.5%) had children currently taken into either temporary or permanent care by child protective service (CPS). This exploratory secondary data analysis compares demographics, mental health/well-being, and protective mothering strategies of the mothers whose children were taken into care compared to those whose children were not to identify key characteristics associated with children being removed by CPS. The demographic characteristics that differentiated the groups most significantly were that mothers with children in care had more CPS involvement as children, themselves, and were less educated. No differences were found on the Severe Combined Abuse, Emotional, Harassment, or Total abuse as measured by the Composite Abuse Scale (CAS). However, mothers with children in care reported significantly more Physical Abuse (CAS). On the mental health measures, mothers with children in care reported significantly more psychological distress (SCL-10; with scores in the clinical range) and lower quality of life but no differences on depression (CES-D-10) or PTSD symptoms (PCL), neither in the clinical range. With regard to protective strategies, the women with children in care were more likely to remain with partners and to physically fight back. Implications of these findings are discussed.