Dr David Finkelhor has studied abuse problems among children and family violence in general since 1977. In his empirical and conceptual work, he points out the psychological impact of abuse, especially among children. He believes that child sexual abuse especially by a relative, usually results to such long-term effects as psychopathology. The victims of abuse usually become abusers themselves to aggravate the cycle of abuse within a family.
The fact that one was abused while young increases the chances of him or her becoming an abuser in later life. This is even more profound among the abuse victims who develop such post-traumatic disorders as substance abuse (especially alcoholism), poor self-esteem, destructive behavior, criminality in adulthood, general psychological distress and somatization.
These negative psychological traits are evident in over 72% of abusers and then in 69% of the victims in later life. Not only do such psychological traits cause abuse, but the also accrue in the victim at the long run. This singular causality effect of abuse thus transforms the victim to an abuser later in life. What David Finkelhor means with this proposition is that if abuse goes untreated, there is a higher risk of the victims turning out as abusers themselves, consequent to the psychological trauma that resulted from their subjection to abuse.
The most prevalent and harmful abuse is the one suffered under the hands of a family member, a relative or one under whom a child has been entrusted. Where love is expected, abuse is suffered. This presents the risk of having the same victims subject those close to them, those entrusted to them and those dependent on them to abuse, later in life.