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Contested Domains, Verbal "Amplifiers," and Intimate Partner Violence in Young Adulthood

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2015
29 pages
This study used structured and qualitative data to examine relationship dynamics associated with intimate partner violence (IPV) that occurs during young adulthood.
Relying on a symbolic interactionist perspective, the study identified specific contested domains associated with what has been called “situational couple violence,” and explored the degree to which certain forms of communication about contested areas (“verbal amplifiers”) exacerbated the risk of violence. Consistent with this relational focus, measures indexed respondent as well as partner concerns and use of these negative forms of communication. Results of analyses of interview data from a large, diverse sample of young adults showed that net of family background, history of antisocial behavior, and other controls, concerns about the partner's or individual's own economic viability, disagreements about time spent with friends, and issues of infidelity were significantly related to IPV perpetration. Yet, the analyses indicate that infidelity was particularly central as a source of conflict associated with violence, and the use of verbal amplifiers explained additional variance. Further, although research has highlighted important differences in the meaning and consequences of male and female IPV, findings point to some areas of overlap in the relationship concerns and communication processes associated with variations in self-reports of the use of violence. In-depth “relationship history narratives” elicited from a subset of respondents and a sample of their partners support the quantitative results, but also highlight variations within the sample, the sequencing of these interrelated processes, and ways in which gender may have influenced respondents' perspectives and behavior. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: December 1, 2015