You can go here to read a small research project of mine,
about an important childhood/family/culture issue related to this terrible disorder of the human spirit: http://www.k-state.edu/womenscenter/Staff/thesis.pdf
here is an excerpt:
Characteristics of the Adult Abuser
While no single personality trait or profile reliably identifies those who commit child abuse, certain traits and behaviors are regularly reported when populations whose members are known abusers are described.
Abusing adults are more likely than others to show aggressive tendencies (Altemeier et al., 1982; Kazdin, 1992; Spinetta and Rigler, 1972; Straus, 1980), egocentrism or narcissism (Gilgun, 1988; McCarthy, 1990), and hostility and suspiciousness (Brunquell et al., 1981), and are often isolated from community and extended family resources (Elmer, 1967; Garbarino and Crouter, 1978). Lower levels of empathy and higher levels of alcohol and drug use are found among abusing parents when compared to nonabusing parents (Milner and Dopke, 1997).
"'Immature,' 'self-centered,' and 'impulsive' are typical descriptions of these parents" (Kaplan et al., 1983, p. 238). Cohn and Daro (1987) reviewed studies investigating severe abuse involving approximately 1000 families and found high levels of spouse abuse, substance abuse, marital conflict, social isolation, and financial and employment problems.
Based on a survey of 700 articles and books on child abuse and neglect, Milner and Williams (1978) reported high levels of interpersonal relationship problems, rigid attitudes, impulsivity, immaturity, feelings of inadequacy, isolation, or loneliness, depression, unrealistic expectations, and a childhood history of abuse and neglect.
Reviews which examined studies utilizing standardized personality assessments found the most prevalent abusive personality style to be one which is emotionally aloof and rigid, prone to irritability and temper outbursts, high in aggression and low in empathy and social connectedness, with a tendency toward antisocial or sociopathic traits in fathers and depressive disorders among mothers (Friedrich and Wheeler, 1982; Kaplan et al., 1983; Smith et al., 1973; Taylor et al., 1991).
This body of research indicates that one cluster of characteristics common to a significant number of abusive individuals is that reflective of sociopathic or antisocial personality characteristics. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, 4th ed.) corroborates this relationship, indicating that physical child abuse and neglect are common behaviors in those with antisocial personality disorder.
Since conduct disorder is the childhood prerequisite to adult antisocial personality disorder (DSM-IV, 1994), an examination of features of conduct disorder provides theoretically relevant adolescent predictors of abuse potential.