Perpetration of intimate partner violence and guilt: the role of parenting status

Emily C. Taverna, Devin J. McGuier, Amy D. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A paucity of research addresses individual differences in the experience of moral emotions (e.g., guilt) related to one’s intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration. Because IPV exposure negatively impacts children, we examined whether IPV perpetration is differentially associated with guilt for parents and non-parents. We conducted multilevel regression analyses among 103 individuals from 52 heterosexual community couples. Parent status moderated the association, such that non-parents reported greater overall, state, and trait guilt in association with greater IPV perpetration whereas parents did not. Parent status did not moderate the relations between IPV victimization and guilt, suggesting that this result is specific to perpetration. We further observed differences with regard to emotion regulation, such that parents had greater difficulty attending to their emotions. Parents may exhibit muted guilt in relation to their perpetration, potentially due to difficulty attending to their emotions. Because guilt in relation to IPV perpetration is a relatively new area of study, research is needed to further elucidate the mechanisms and directionality of this relationship. Current findings suggest that emotion regulation strategies that foster healthy processing of guilt may be important considerations for IPV prevention and intervention research, particularly those that address vulnerability for IPV during the transition to parenthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)274-294
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Family Trauma, Child Custody and Child Development
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Law


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