Intergenerational Abuse an Investigation and Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

The relationship between childhood abuse and complaints from expectant mothers during pregnancy was the focus of Lukasse et al. (2009), which determined that certain common pregnancy complaints showed a higher rate of prevalence in women who had suffered abuse as children. These complaints affected maternal attitude both during the pregnancy and after giving birth, and although they did not generally indicate a likelihood of intergenerational abuse, these complaints were still predictors of other negative parenting patterns.

Though the relationship of religiosity in parents and their children and the children's expression of abusive symptomology was the focus of Kim et al. (2009), the results of their study had rather surprising implications for the research questions at hand. Religiosity in parents and expressiveness as well as religiosity in children who were not maltreated showed a definite set of relationships dependent on other factors of the parent-child relationship, but no such set of relationships could be established for maltreated children. This suggests that the parent-child relationship is fundamentally and possibly irrevocably disrupted by abuse. Lumley & Harkness (2009) upheld the established hypothesis that physical and emotional but not sexual abuse are linked to the development of depressive symptomologies. Further research could shed light on the exact cognitive mechanism that is altered by physical and emotional abuse and perhaps suggest ways in which this can be altered or re-trained to mitigate damages.

Levine (2003) and Leifer & Smith (1990) both note the extremely high correlation between witnessing abuse in prolonged settings during childhood and practicing abuse against others during adult life, specifically on elders and children, respectively. Levine (2003) studies the effects of elder abuse and methods of detection, which can be difficult given the rate of self-neglect. For victims not living alone, however, family history of abuse is said to be he primary indicator. Leifer & Smith (2009) explore various intervention techniques through a case study of a mother who suffered abuse as a child. As part of the background to the case study, overall effects and causes of childhood physical (non-sexual) abuse are gone over in brief, and their practical manifestation in the scenario at hand allows for a sharper conceptual understanding of the theoretical concepts.

An excellent overview on elder abuse is provided by Hildreth et al. (2009). Nursing home and other care facility abuse cases were not relevant to the research questions at hand, but cases of family care abuse showed a high degree of relevance insofar as evidence of the learned abusive behaviors. Specific mention of full-circle intergenerational abuse, i.e. where the abuser becomes a victim of the abused in old age, is not made, and case studies that address this issue, if ethically possible, would perhaps shed greater light on the psychological underpinnings of intergenerational abuse. Dong et al. (2009) also noted the high prevalence of self-neglect among elderly individuals in a dwelling community, but also noted that rates of abuse were highly tied to family histories of abuse. The results of this survey were not as pertinent nor as reliable as those cited by Levine (2003) in his overview of the issue, but Dong et al. (2009) did provide practical real-world verification in case-study instance of Levine's claims.


Intergenerational abuse is an ongoing problem, and the quickness with which the abusive behavior is learned -- as well as the permanence of such behavior if not corrected early on -- are major contributing factors to the issue. Other negative parenting patterns resulting from childhood abuse can be affected by intervention techniques even in adulthood. These require further study and implementation. Further research into the exact mechanism(s) by which abusive behaviors ate learned is needed in order to more effectively combat cases of intergenerational abuse.


Cross, W. (2001). "A Personal History of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Parenting Patterns and Problems." Clinical child psychology and psychiatry 6(4), pp. 563-74.

Dong, X.; Simon, M.; de Leon, C.; Fulmer, T.; Beck, T.; Hbert, L.; Dyer, C.; Paveza, G. & Evans, D. (2009). "Elder Self-neglect and Abuse and Mortality Risk in a Community-Dwelling Population." Journal of the American medical association 302(5), pp. 517-26.

Hildreth, C.; Burke, a. & Glass, R. (2009). "Elder abuse." Journal of the American medical association 302(5), pp. 588.

Huefner, J.; Ringle, J.; Chmelka, M. & Ingram, S. (2007). "Breaking the cycle of intergenerational abuse: The long-term impact of a residential care program." Child abuse & neglect 31(2), pp. 187-99.

Kim, J.; McCullough, M. & Cicchetti, D. (2009). "Parents' and Children's Religiosity and Child Behavioral Adjustment Among Maltreated and Nonmaltreated Children." Journal of child and family studies 18(5), pp. 594-605.

Leifer, M. & Smith, S. (1990). "Toward breaking the cycle of intergenerational abuse." American journal…

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