Trauma exposure and child abuse potential: investigating the cycle of violence

Carlton D Craig, Ginny Sprang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


This study was designed to ascertain the relationship between trauma exposure and child abuse potential, considering a number of demographic and trauma-specific factors. The sample consisted of 1,680 caregivers with open, substantiated cases of abuse or neglect who were evaluated at a university-based outpatient assessment and treatment center. As part of a larger battery of instruments, the participants completed the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAPI) and a trauma history screen. In partial support of the proposed hypotheses, univariate and multivariate analyses revealed important differences in CAPI scores between the no-trauma-exposure group and the child-only, adult-only, and child-adult exposure groups. In addition, the type of trauma, age, and gender proved to be powerful predictors of elevated CAPI scores. These findings advance understanding of the developmental and cumulative effects of trauma exposure and suggest a profile of individuals who may be at risk for developing characteristics similar to known physical abusers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-305
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007

Bibliographical note

2007 APA, all rights reserved


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caregivers/psychology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse/psychology
  • Domestic Violence/psychology
  • Family Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kentucky
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors


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