That's one of the grim findings of a report by Government adviser Louise Casey as she calls for urgent action to tackle England's 'troubled' families.
She interviewed 16 families to compile a report about the task facing the Government and found that many families have histories of sexual abuse and welfare dependency dating back many years.
She said domestic violence was often endemic and 'entrenched cycles of suffering problems and causing problems' contaminate relationships.
"The prevalence of child sexual and physical abuse and sometimes child rape was striking and shocking," she said in her report.
"It became clear that in many of these families the abuse of children by in many cases parents, siblings, half-siblings and extended family and friends was a factor in their dysfunction," she added.
"Some discussed it as if as it was almost expected and just a part of what they had experienced in life. Children often had not been protected by their parents."
To tackle this, Ms Casey said some households could get daily visits as part of a scheme to target 120,000 of the most troubled families.
She told the BBC: "It's not about left wing, it's not about right wing, it's about doing the right thing and the right thing is... to get our sleeves rolled up nationally, locally and in these people's lives."
The programme's £448m budget covers three years and only applies in England, with the the Government promising to pay county councils and state authorities up to £4,000 per eligible family to work on reducing truancy, cutting youth crime and anti-social behaviour, and encouraging parents into work.
Ms Casey said the initiative would save money in the long-term as troubled families were currently "absorbing huge amounts of resources" - in one case £200,000 a year.
She said the authorities needed to understand the complex histories of these families if they were to take effective action.
"I am not making excuses for any family failing to send their kids to school or causing trouble in their community,' she said.
"However unless we really understand what it is about these families that means they behave in this way, we can't start to turn their lives around."
The Government says 'troubled families' in England cost taxpayers £9bn every year - and they have said they want to turn their lives around by 2015.
What a depressing picture. Any intervention that can break this vicious cycle of abuse has to be a good thing, right?
More:Advice And Health
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