Katlin Rhyner

Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Cheryl Terrance


The current study examined perceptions of child abuse and neglect within the context of heterosexual intimate partner violence. Participants were asked to read a vignette describing a situation where a child either saw, heard, or was physically injured in an intimate partner violence altercation that took place between his parents. Within abuse exposure condition, the gender of the victim was also varied. Participants were asked to decide the extent to which the situation constitutes child abuse and neglect, as well as how much blame and responsibility should be assigned to each parent involved in the incident. Overall, it was found that men were more likely than women to believe the victim's behavior represented child abuse and neglect. Additionally, it was found that the perpetrator's actions were seen as abusive only when the child was physically harmed in the situation. When assessing responsibility, women held the perpetrator of abuse more responsible than did men. Lastly, participants thought that the female victim was more likely to be involved in future abuse than the male victim. Implications are discussed.