The Relationship Between Exposure to Violence in the Family of Origin During Childhood, Psychological Distress, and Perpetrating Violence in Intimate Relationships Among Male University Students

Muhammad M Haj-Yahia, Cindy A Sousa, Ranit Lugassi
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2019 April 13, : 886260519843280
Witnessing or experiencing violence early in childhood is a significant risk factor for later perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV) by men against women. Despite a large body of research on the topic, there is a need for more specific information about how differing patterns of family violence might pose distinct risks of later mental health problems and violence perpetration. Using a self-administered questionnaire, a cross-sectional survey was conducted among 745 male university students in Israel (age = 21-43, M = 25.56, SD = 3.172) to examine the effects of their exposure to family violence (i.e., parent-to-child psychological aggression [PA] and physical violence [PV] and witnessing interparental PA and PV) on their use of IPV. This study also examined whether psychological distress mediates the relationship between family violence exposure (witnessing or experiencing) and later IPV perpetration. Results indicate that experiencing PA and PV in childhood and current psychological distress predict significantly current IPV perpetration. Results also revealed that psychological distress mediates only the relations between participants experiencing parental violence and their PA against intimate partners. However, results showed that higher rates of participants witnessing interparental violence correlate significantly with lower rates of their PV against intimate partners; this relationship was not mediated by their psychological distress. It was also found that experiencing parental violence has significant direct and indirect positive effect on participants' PV against intimate partners. The limitations of the study and the implications of its results are discussed.

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