Objective: This study aimed to verify the direct and indirect pathways between witnessing intimate partner violence (WIPV) during childhood and being involved with it as a victim or a perpetrator in adult life. The mediating roles of depression and substance use were investigated.
Method: The data comes from the Second Brazilian National Alcohol and Drugs Survey, a multi-cluster probabilistic household survey which gathered information on the use of psychoactive substances, depressive disorder, history of childhood direct and indirect exposure to violence and intimate partner violence (IPV) in a population-based nationally representative sample. A subsample of 2,120 individuals 14 years and older, cohabiting with their partners was analysed. Weighted prevalence rates and adjusted odds ratios were calculated using Stata13 and Conditional Path Models were tested using Process for SPSS.
Results: Being a victim of IPV was reported by 6% of the sample, and 4.1% reported being perpetrators; these rates were 16.6% and 7.3%, respectively among WIPV (13%). WIPV was associated with being a victim of IPV but not with becoming a perpetrator. The conditional model showed a direct association between WIPV and IPV and this was mediated by depression. Alcohol consumption, age of drinking initiation and cocaine use mediated this association only when combined with depression.
Conclusion: Intergenerational transmission models of IPV through exposure during childhood can contribute to explain the high rates of domestic violence in Brazil. Our findings should provide evidence to focus on prevention strategies where they are needed the most: the victms of premature adverse experiences.