Physical abuse in childhood as a predictor of intimate partner violence perpetration among dating couples: The role of negative affect during conflict

Anne L. Steel, Laura E. Watkins, David DiLillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Adult victims of child physical abuse (CPA) are more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence (IPV) than are nonvictims. However, not all CPA victims go on to become violent toward their partners, suggesting that other factors moderate risk for IPV perpetration. Drawing on the background-situational model (Riggs & O'Leary, 1989, 1996), this study examines the independent and interactive effects of CPA history and negative affect arising during conflict with an intimate partner in predicting physical IPV perpetration. Fifty-three heterosexual dating couples completed questionnaires assessing CPA history and perpetration of physical IPV. Couples discussed the largest source of conflict in their relationship for 10 min. Videos of these discussions were coded for negative affect. Using an actor partner interdependence model approach to account for the dyadic interdependence of the data, findings revealed that at average levels of negative affect, CPA severity predicted greater IPV perpetration for both men and women. However, at average levels of CPA, negative affect during conflict was positively predictive of IPV perpetration for men only. Findings further revealed an interaction such that for men, the positive association between CPA severity and IPV perpetration became stronger as their negative affect during conflict increased.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-219
Number of pages16
JournalPartner Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Child abuse
  • Child physical abuse
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Negative affect
  • Perpetration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Law

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