Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Alan King


Research consistently demonstrates childhood adversity is associated with a breadth of maladjustment outcomes. The present study sought to expand the current literature on the impact of witnessing parental violence (OPA) and childhood physical abuse (CPA) as distal risk factors for child abuse potential (CAP) when controlling for select proximal risk factors and other forms of adversity. Perpetration risk was assessed using an analog task. It was hypothesized co-occurring CPA and OPA would predict harsher parenting behaviors on the analog task, particularly among the men, and that select proximal risk factors would influence more severe parenting behaviors. It was also hypothesized respondents with co-occurring CPA and OPA would endorse greater physical discipline use and escalatory behavior compared to controls and those with only one form of violence history. An adult, parent-only, general population sample was collected (N = 898). Overall, results indicated co-occurring CPA and OPA did not predict harsher disciplinary behaviors, particularly when controlling for other adversities and proximal risk factors. Among the women, multiple regressions initially revealed co-occurring CPA and OPA predicted a decrease in physical discipline use and escalatory behavior, however, these interaction effects were no longer significant when controlling for current emotional state and substance use. Chi-square analyses showed dual violence history increased the odds of endorsing severe physical discipline use (OR = 2.25-4.30) and severe escalation (OR = 2.65-2.69) compared to controls, but not compared to respondents with singular violence history. No other significant interactions were observed for any of the other analyses. Findings from this study highlight the complex relationship between childhood violence and CAP and underscore the importance of taking into account other forms of adversity and other more proximal risk factors for CAP when examining the long-term impacts of OPA and CPA on child maltreatment potential.