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Life Course, Relationship, and Situational Contexts of Teen Dating Violence

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $346,275)

Intimate partner violence necessarily occurs within the context of relationships, but knowledge of the character and dynamics of teen and young adult violent relationships is limited. The research builds on a large, prospective longitudinal study of adolescent romantic and sexual relationships (Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study-TARS). Currently the grantee has funding to interview the youngest cohort (one third of the existing sample). However, interviews with two additional cohorts (the entire TARS sample) will allow a complete age-graded portrait of teen and young adult dating violence, extending to the critical age period in which intimate partner violence increases exponentially in frequency and seriousness. Analyses of the four waves of existing TARS interviews, combined with new structured and in-depth qualitative interviews based on responses of the entire sample will provide a portrait of the: a) life stage, b) relationship, and c) situational contexts that foster teen and young adult intimate partner violence. Drawing on a symbolic interactionist perspective we focus on the respondents' perceptions of the meanings and impact of violent events in their lives and relationships. Of particular interest is to specify the universal and uniquely gendered aspects of intimate partner violence as individuals transition from early adolescence to young adulthood.

The project includes three specific aims. 1) To analyze the incidence, prevalence, and patterns of relationship abuse from adolescence to young adulthood. TARS are innovative because it moves beyond school-based samples and include oversamples of African-American and Hispanic respondents, enabling analysis of the socio-demographic patterning of TDV (e.g., physical perpetration and victimization, psychological abuse, and sexual coercion). Further, the long window of observation (over a ten year period) will establish patterns from age 13 to 25 and show how developmental life stage is related to relationship abuse. The project will also identify distinct trajectories of abuse and examine early risk factors and contemporaneous circumstances associated with these varying life course experiences of perpetration and victimization. It moves beyond the limited prior research on change processes by identifying factors linked to desistance, escalation and persistence in TDV. 2) To examine similarities and differences in violent and non-violent relationships. 3) To identify situational contexts within relationships that amplify risk for violence.


Date Created: September 16, 2010