Date of Graduation
Investigators have hypothesized that survivors of child sexual abuse may be at increased risk for becoming perpetrators of sexual abuse against children. Much of the available information about this cycle of abuse, however, is anecdotal and not based on empirical evidence. Furthermore, there has been little investigation of whether or not a history of sexual abuse may put one at risk for becoming a perpetrator of other types of child maltreatment, such as physical abuse. It is also unclear whether or not gender differences with respect to level of psychopathology and repeated exposure to traumatic events might increase the likelihood that one will offend against children. Given the paucity of empirical information about the hypothesized cycle of abuse, the current investigation utilized a sample of college students to examine relations among the following variables: gender, psychopathology, childhood history of sexual and/or physical abuse, level of exposure to a variety of other potentially traumatic events, and the potential for committing child sexual and/or physical abuse. In order to examine these relations, self-report instruments were administered to 418 college students. Results of MANOVA and univariate analyses revealed that sexually abused men had clinically significant levels of risk for perpetrating child physical abuse. Additionally, a series of regression analyses revealed that child physical abuse potential was predicted by global level of psychopathology, and a subset of the symptoms of PTSD. With respect to child sexual abuse potential, gender, population of one's hometown, and PTSD-related self-persecutory thoughts were significant predictors. The implications of the findings are discussed and suggestions are provided for future research in this area.
Rabalais, Aline E., "The cycle of abuse: Factors that put survivors at risk for perpetration of child physical and/or sexual abuse." (2003). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9612.