News Release

Institute explores intimate partner violence across generations

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Sam Houston State University

HUNTSVILLE, TX (10/30/13) -- Most parents who experienced intimate partner violence had children that grew to face violence in their own adult relationships, according to a study published by the Crime Victims' Institute at Sam Houston State University.

"These families, unfortunately, were not able to break the cycle of violence," said Kelly Knight, an Assistant Professor at the College of Criminal Justice and the primary author of the study. "Most parents who had experienced intimate partner violence had children who eventually grew up to experience intimate partner violence themselves."

"Generational Cycles of Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S.: A Research Brief" showed that nearly four out of every five families where parents were involved with intimate partner violence had adult children who perpetrated violent acts against partners, and three out of every four families had adult children who became victims of the crime.

The study was based on the National Youth Survey Family Study, a national sample of 1,683 families, and followed 353 second generation parents and their third generation offspring over a 20-year period.

Generally, the study found that most participants, regardless of the generation or family background, were involved in some form of intimate partner violence (IPV), either as a perpetrator or a victim. Examples of intimate partner violence included throwing something; pushing or grabbing; slapping; hitting with a fist; hitting with an objects; choking; beating; threatening with a weapon; using a weapon; or attempting to kill a partner or spouse.

A total of 92 percent of parents in the study admitted to committing a least one minor act of intimate partner violence, with 67 percent saying they committed at least one violent act against their significant other. Among their adult children, 81 percent admitted to at least one minor incident of IPV, while 33 percent said they used violence against a partner.

Regarding the issue of victimization, 66 percent of parents and 36 percent of adult child report being the victim of violence at the hands of their partners, while 93 percent of parents and 78 percent of adult children report being a victim of minor incidents of IPV.

The study also found that one-fifth of those surveyed had participated in three or more types of intimate partner violence.


The study was coauthored by Knight, Scott Menard, Leana Bouffard and Sara Simmons of SHSU College of Criminal Justice and Rebecca Orsi of Colorado State University. It was published by the Crime Victims' Institute, which was created by the Texas Legislature to study the impact of crime on victims, their relatives and society and to develop policies to assist the criminal justice and juvenile justice system to prevent victimization. It will be presented at the American Society of Criminology annual meeting in November.

The study can be found at

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