Public Release: 

Violent upbringing may lead to domestic violence


LOS ANGELES--October 5, 2009--A recent study from the latest issue of Personal Relationships shows that individuals who have experienced violence at an early age may have trouble adjusting to healthy, adult romantic relationships and are at a higher risk to experience marital difficulties. The research reveals that early exposure to a violent environment is likely to lead to domestic violence situations later in life. Feelings of insecurity, abandonment anxiety, and intimacy issues are also likely to plague these romantic connections.

Additionally, the dynamics of the way couples react and communicate with each other is also related to the likelihood of domestic violence within a relationship. For example, men tend to use violence towards their partner as a means to exert a desire for personal space or avoidance of emotional issues in response to the "clingy" or intrusive behavior of his female partner.

This research highlights the importance of domestic violence prevention efforts starting at the childhood level, within family environments as well as school and community based settings. Moreover, prevention efforts allow the victim to relate long-harbored painful childhood violent experiences and rectify internal representations of self that cause long-term damage to valuable inter-personal relationships and families.


This study is published in the September 2009 issue of Personal Relationships. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact

To view the abstract for this article, please visit

Dr. Natacha Godbout is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Miller Children Abuse and Violence Intervention Center at the Keck School of Medicine (University of Southern California). Her research concerns the impact of child maltreatment on adult interpersonal and psychological functioning. She can be reached for questions at

Donald G. Dutton, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada and has thirty years of research in domestic and forensic violence. He has authored four books and more than 100 articles on the psychological mechanisms of violence perpetrators. He can be reached for questions at

Yvan Lussier, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. Dr. Lussier's primary research interest lies in the area of marital relationship, particularly on risk factors for the development of romantic relationship dysfunction. He can be reached for questions at

Stéphane Sabourin, PhD, is a Professor in the School of Psychology at the Université Laval, in Quebec, Canada. Dr. Sabourin's research interests include adult and couple clinical psychology. He seeks to develop more accurate and comprehensive models for understanding marital distress. He can be reached for questions at

About the Journal: Personal Relationships, first published in 1994, is an international, interdisciplinary journal that promotes scholarship in the field of personal relationships using a wide variety of methodologies and throughout a broad range of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, communication studies, anthropology, family studies, child development, social work, and gerontology.

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