Witnessing domestic violence, that is, witnessing any form of maltreatment on reference figures affectively significant for the child (CISMAI, 2005; Holden, 2003), can occur prenatally. Pregnancy has been recognized as a period of heightened risk for intimate partner violence (Holden, 2003); the fetus can thus be the direct target of an assault or suffer the consequences accidentally, starting from the effects of the psychological state of terror experienced by the mother. In addition, several studies show a secondary effect of this form of violence, due to the perception that mothers might have of the child's personality and temperament which are often expected to be negatively affected by the abuse she suffered during pregnancy (DeVoe & Smith, 2002). This paper is a review of national and international literature on the topic.
Keywords: Couple, intimate partner violence, pregnancy, maltreatment