Many women are abused by intimate partners, millions of children witness such acts, and many of these children are physically abused. Children who are exposed to violence often evidence difficulties, including violent behavior, as adults. One hypothesized mode of intergenerational transmission is modeling. There is evidence that witnessing and/or experiencing violence are related to different patterns of abusive behavior and, perhaps, psychopathology, but the extent of the relationship is unclear. This study examined differences in generality, frequency, and severity of violent offenses, nonviolent criminal behavior, and psychopathology within a battering population of 1,099 adult males with varying levels of exposure to violence as children. Generality, frequency, and severity of violence and psychopathology all increased as level of childhood exposure to violence increased. Modeling theory was supported by the findings that men who witnessed domestic violence as children committed the most frequent domestic violence, and men who were abused as children were more likely to abuse children. Men who were abused also committed more general violence.
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Murrell, A.R., Christoff, K.A. & Henning, K.R. Characteristics of Domestic Violence Offenders: Associations with Childhood Exposure to Violence. J Fam Viol 22, 523–532 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-007-9100-4