Early exposure to violence, domestic violence, attachment representations, and marital adjustment


  • This research was funded by the Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Problémes Conjugaux et les Agressions Sexuelles (CRIPCAS) and the Fond de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ). We thank Hélène Paradis for her help with statistical analyses. Preliminary results were presented at the International Family Violence and Child Victimization Research Conference, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA.

Yvan Lussier, Département de psychologie, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, C.P. 5000, Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada, G9A 5H7, e-mail: Yvan.Lussier@uqtr.ca.


The present study investigates the effects of violent experiences in childhood on current domestic violence and marital adjustment, using adult attachment theory as a conceptual framework. A nonclinical sample of 644 Canadian adults in long-term romantic relationships completed measures of adult romantic attachment, conflict tactics scales, and dyadic adjustment. Structural equation modeling revealed that early experiences of violence affect adults' intimate violence directly and indirectly through anxiety over abandonment and avoidance of intimacy. The actor–partner interdependence model illustrated the importance of early exposure to violence in predicting both partners' attachment representations, intimate violence, and couple adjustment. Findings are discussed with reference to the clinical issues surrounding minor violence against the intimate partner.