Childhood family violence and perpetration and victimization of intimate partner violence: findings from a national population-based study of couples

Christy M McKinney, Raul Caetano, Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, Scott Nelson
Annals of Epidemiology 2009, 19 (1): 25-32

PURPOSE: We sought to examine the relation between childhood family violence and intimate partner violence (IPV).

METHODS: We surveyed 1615 couples from the U.S. household population by using multistage cluster sampling. Childhood family violence measures included moderate and severe child physical abuse and witnessing interparental threats or physical violence. IPV was categorized as nonreciprocal male-to-female partner violence (MFPV), nonreciprocal female-to-male partner violence (FMPV), reciprocal IPV (MFPV and FMPV), and no IPV. We used multinomial logistic regression to estimate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) between childhood family violence and IPV.

RESULTS: Men who experienced moderate (adjusted OR [AOR] 3.9, 95% CI, 1.3-11.8) or severe (AOR 4.5, 95% CI: 1.1-19.3) child physical abuse were at increased risk of nonreciprocal MFPV; a male history of severe childhood physical abuse or witnessing interparental violence was associated with a twofold increased risk of reciprocal IPV. Women who witnessed interparental threats of violence (AOR 1.9, 95% CI, 0.8-4.6) or interparental physical violence (AOR 3.4, 95% CI, 1.5-7.9) in childhood were at increased risk of nonreciprocal FMPV. Women exposed to any type of childhood family violence were more than 1.5 times as likely to engage in reciprocal IPV. Many strong positive ORs had CIs compatible with no association.

CONCLUSION: We provide new evidence that childhood family violence is associated with an increased risk of nonreciprocal and reciprocal IPV. Treatment providers and policy makers should consider childhood family violence history in both men and women in the context of IPV.

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