Iowa State study sheds new light on cycle of violence

Psychological abuse between a parent and a child increases the likelihood that the child will be in an abusive relationship in the future –even more so than a child witnessing adult partner violence in the home, a new study suggests.

The researchers, from Iowa State University, explored the impact of childhood exposure to psychological violence and family stress on future relationships; data came from the Iowa Youth and Family Project, a 24-year study of families in rural Iowa.

Because the researchers were able to draw from data across several years, they could see patterns across generations, and the lasting effect of family stress as children grow up.

What is troubling for researchers is how the cycle of violence continues from one generation to the next. Adolescents who are influenced by family stress early in life not only grow up to have poor relationships with their partner or spouse, but [coauthor Tricia] Neppl’s work shows it influences their children’s development into adulthood as well.” 

The authors of the study are urging for “better and earlier prevention,” including more education and programming in schools to help lower the incidence of teen dating violence.