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Child Abuse Negl. 1996 Apr;20(4):305-14.

Moderating effects of physical abuse and perceived social support on the potential to abuse.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, USA.


This study investigated the moderating effects of perceived prepubertal social support on the relationship between prepubertal childhood physical abuse and child abuse potential as well as on the relationship between a childhood history of abuse and conflict and depth in adult relationships. Three hundred and sixty-nine undergraduate men and women were classified as abused or nonabused based on their responses to the Childhood History Questionnaire. Multiple regression analyses revealed interactions of social support and a childhood history of physical abuse on both the potential to abuse and the quality of participants' relationships with their parents. Differences between abused and nonabused individuals were obtained only under conditions of low perceived social support. When social support was perceived to be high, abused and nonabused individuals did not differ in the potential to abuse or in the ratings of the depth of their relationships with parents. Implications of these findings for the intergenerational transmission of abuse are discussed.

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