The authors compare family interaction in 70 child abuse cases and 70 nonabuse psychiatric outpatient cases. The children were matched for age level (3–6, 6–12, and 12–17 years), sex, and primary diagnostic impression. Specific parameters focused on within each family included chronic situational stress, income level, mobility, previous psychiatric treatment, family conflict, husband-wife conflict, divorce, family resources, parent-child interaction, and underlying contributory factors with the parent and/or child. Abusive families were uniformly found to show a higher degree of pathology along the same parameters compared with controls. The significance of treating abusive families in the context of social systems is discussed.