People who were abused in their families of origin may practice the same abusive behavior towards themselves. They may also pass it on to their children. This creates a sick, and sometimes fatal, cycle of abuse that repeats itself generation after generation.
Genograms are a visual diagram of the psychosocial issues in your family tree. Though the trained eye of a therapist is helpful in interpreting a genogram, you can make one yourself and learn a lot about your family dynamics. What is a genogram, how do you make one, and why are they helpful?