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Child Dev. 1988 Aug;59(4):1080-8.

Breaking the cycle of abuse.

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Mother-Child Intervention Research Project, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455.


The aim of this study was to identify variables that distinguish mothers who broke the cycle of abuse from mothers who were abused as children and who also abused their own children. Based on maternal interviews and questionnaires completed over a 64-month period, measures of mothers' past and current relationship experiences, stressful life events, and personality characteristics were obtained. Abused mothers who were able to break the abusive cycle were significantly more likely to have received emotional support from a nonabusive adult during childhood, participated in therapy during any period of their lives, and to have had a nonabusive and more stable, emotionally supportive, and satisfying relationship with a mate. Abused mothers who reenacted their maltreatment with their own children experienced significantly more life stress and were more anxious, dependent, immature, and depressed.

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