Adverse childhood experiences and intimate partner violence: Testing psychosocial mediational pathways among couples

Christina Mair, Carol B. Cunradi, Michael Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Purpose: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with an increased likelihood of intimate partner violence (IPV) in adulthood. We tested whether psychosocial factors, such as depression, anxiety, impulsivity, and problem drinking, mediate associations between ACEs and IPV. Methods: Couple data from a cross-sectional sample of married/cohabiting couples residing in 50 medium-to-large California cities (n = 1861 couples) were used. Hypothesized relationships among male and female ACE, male-to-female partner violence (MFPV) and female-to-male partner violence (FMPV), frequency of intoxication, depression, impulsivity, and anxiety were tested with structural equation path models, and the significance of both individual direct paths and indirect associations was determined. Results: Male and female partners had positive direct associations between ACEs and depression, anxiety, and impulsivity. Males' anxiety and impulsivity and females' depression were positively related to MFPV. Males' depression and frequency of intoxication and females' depression, were positively related to FMPV. Indirect associations between male ACEs and MPFV via depression; male ACEs and FMPV via anxiety and impulsivity; and female ACEs and MPFV and FMPV via depression were all positive and significant. Conclusions: Adverse childhood experiences impact IPV partially through psychosocial characteristics. Interventions targeted at reducing ACEs and subsequent psychosocial outcomes may help reduce adult IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-839
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholic intoxication
  • Anxiety
  • Child abuse
  • Depression
  • Domestic violence
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Spouse abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Adverse childhood experiences and intimate partner violence: Testing psychosocial mediational pathways among couples'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this