Risk Marker Analysis of Husband-to-Wife Violence: A Continuum of Aggression1


  • 1

    The present research was supported, in part, by the University of New Hampshire Family Research Laboratory and by NIH Training Grant (#5-T32-MH15161–16) awarded to the second and third authors. This paper is a publication of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. A list of publications is available on request to the Laboratory Administrator. It is a pleasure to acknowledge the comments by the University of New Hampshire Family Violence Research Seminar on an earlier draft of this paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to David B. Sugarman, Department of Psychology, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI 02908–1991. e-mail: dsugarman@grog.ric.edu.


To evaluate whether a continuity of aggression assumption underlies husband-to-wife violence, an analysis of the 1985 National Family Violence Survey was performed to assess to degree to which highly recognized risk markers discriminate among various levels of husband-to-wife violence. Parallel analyses were conducted on men's reports of expressions of violence and women's reports of victimization. Individuals of both genders who reported more extreme forms of violence were more likely to report less extreme violence as well. In addition, several risk markers that discriminated individuals involved in husband-to-wife violence exhibited linear associations with the level of violence reported. These linear trends appeared consistent regardless of whether husbands' reports of inflicting violence or wives' reports of being victimized were examined. These results support the assumption that husband-to-wife violence lies upon a continuum of severity.