Pathways to Relationship Aggression Between Adult Partners


perpetration, physical abuse in the family, relationship aggression


In this study, the pathways to adult aggression beginning in the family of origin (FOO) and continuing through adult relationships were investigated. With a sample of 30,600 individuals, a comprehensive model was evaluated that included the unique influences of violent victimization in the family, witnessing parental violence, perpetrating violence as children, the family environment, personality, and situational factors in the couple relationship such as negative communication for self and partner. The results indicated that perpetration of violence in the family was the only background variable that was associated with relationship aggression. However, the other types of violence in the FOO were associated with the overall family environment, which had a moderate association with situational factors within the couple relationship. Perceptions of the partner had a particularly strong association with negative communication and relationship aggression. Gender differences were evident as the association between perpetration of violence in the FOO and adult relationship aggression was stronger for women than men, whereas the association between ratings of their partner’s personality and adult aggression was stronger for men.

Original Publication Citation

Busby, D. M., Holman, T. B., & Walker, E. (2008). Pathways to relationship aggression between adult partners. Family Relations, 57, 72-83.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Family Relations




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor