Life Course Associations between Victimization and Aggression: Distinctive and Cumulative Contributions

Child Adolesc Social Work J. 2015 Jun 1;32(3):269-279.


The connections between early maltreatment and later aggression are well established in the literature, however gaps remain in our understanding of developmental processes. This study investigates the cascading life course linkages between victimization experiences from childhood through early adulthood and later aggressive behavior. The diverse, at-risk sample is of particular importance to child and adolescent specialists, as it represents highly vulnerable youth accessible through conventional school settings. In addition to direct pathways from proximal life periods, path analysis revealed significant indirect mediated pathways through which earlier life victimization contributes to aggressive behaviors in later life periods as well as revictimization. Multivariate regressions support theorized cumulative effects of multi-form victimization as well as distinct contributions of victimization domains (emotional, witnessing, physical, property, and sexual) in explaining aggressive behavior. Consistent with theorizing about the developmental impact of early maltreatment, results bolster the importance of interrupting pathways from victimization to revictimization and later aggression. Findings are evaluated in light of implications for early identification and prevention programming.

Keywords: Victimization; abuse; aggression; development; violence.