Violently Reactive Women and Their Relationship With an Abusive Mother

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This article sheds light on the abuse of mothers toward their daughters and its potential influence on the violent behavior of the latter as adults. It contributes to the scarce knowledge on the effects of abuse of each parent on their children by gender. The article is part of a larger study describing the experience of 30 women in Israel who were abusive or violent toward their male partners. It presents the stories of 14 women from the sample who, when sharing their memories of childhood and family-of-origin, spoke of an abusive relationship with their mothers. The various types of these relationships are presented along a continuum based on the severity of violence and emotional detachment of the mothers toward the interviewees, ranging from physical and emotional distancing, through chronic expressions of bitterness and criticism, and ending with severe physical violence. The findings are analyzed through the prism of social construction, relating to the interviewees’ use of the psychodynamic discourse when accounting for their past and present abusive relationships. Some limitations and clinical implementations of the study, and needs for further research, are addressed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1905-1928
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number11
StatePublished - 6 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2014


  • child abuse
  • children exposed to domestic violence
  • domestic violence
  • intergenerational transmission of trauma
  • women offenders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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