This study is based on interviews with 18 male wife-beaters and 49 battered wives. It was designed to establish the importance of such social background factors as violence and alcoholism in the family of origin for the eruption of similar problems in the next generation. The study concludes that battered wives and male batterers have a similar social background and that a vast majority of them have experienced violence in childhood and that half of them came from homes where the father was a heavy consumer of alcohol. As adults, the boys repeat the behaviour of their fathers and the girls repeat the behaviour of their mothers. To prevent wife abuse we must extend the scope from the battered wife to the whole family. Only by focusing on the conditions under which the children of the battered wife grow up can family violence be prevented in the future.