The Risk of Family Violence After Incarceration: An Integrative Review

Richard Stansfield, Daniel Semenza, Laura Napolitano, Melanie Gaston, Megan Coleman, Maria Diaz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Despite the importance of understanding the prevalence, causes, and consequences of conflict and violence within families, the specific risk of violence following a family member’s release from incarceration has been hard to ascertain. Research indicates that a significant percentage of persons released from incarceration will experience involvement in family violence in their life, yet it remains unclear whether this heightened risk exists due to larger family or structural contexts or whether incarceration itself leads to heightened risk of family violence after release. Using an integrative review methodology that combines results from both qualitative and quantitative studies, we review existing studies of family violence after incarceration to explore (1) the prevalence, (2) variation in measurement, (3) risk factors, and (4) protective factors for family violence after a family member’s incarceration. Through a search of three separate databases for peer-reviewed and gray literature, we analyzed 26 studies that estimated any form of physical family violence after any family member had been incarcerated. Where reported, intimate partner violence occurs in almost a quarter of cases, although only four studies examine the prevalence of violence perpetrated against children by parents. Family violence history, weakened family support during incarceration, and substance use after release all emerged as persistent risk factors. Directions and opportunities for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)476-489
Number of pages14
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • family conflict
  • family context
  • family violence
  • incarceration
  • reentry


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