U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Life Course, Relationship, and Situational Contexts of Teen Dating Violence: A Final Summary Overview

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2015
18 pages
This Federally-funded research study builds on the Toledo Adolescent Relationship Study (TARS) by adding quantitative and qualitative assessments of intimate partner violence; the goal of this data collection and analysis was to produce a comprehensive age-graded portrait of intimate partner violence among teens and young adults.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) occurs within the context of dyadic relationships, but knowledge of the character and dynamics of teen and young adult violent relationships is limited. This research adds quantitative and qualitative assessments of IPV with a focus on: 1) developmental progressions, 2) relationship dynamics, and 3) situational factors associated with IPV across a subset of male and female respondents. Findings indicate that: 1) Trajectories are linked to traditional risk factors, such as coercive parenting and parent-child relationship quality, but also to characteristics of the intimate relationships within which they occur, such as the frequency of disagreements, feelings of jealousy and mistrust, and perceptions of a lack of partner validation. 2) There are specific areas that partners may be attempting to control or change, and risk is particularly elevated in relationships characterized by high levels control attempts. Relationship dynamics are also implicated in the process of moving away from violence or desisting. Results of analyses of narratives indicate that changes in the form and content of communications, as well as in behaviors that had proven to be a source of continuing conflict, were central adjustments that respondents associated with the cessation of physical violence. And, 3) that both a traditional anger measure and a relationship-specific measure of negative emotions contributed significantly to the odds of perpetration, and the variability observed across different relationships suggest some limitations of the stable trait perspective. These findings suggest the utility of a dyadic or 'relational' perspective on IPV, recognizing that these dynamics are more malleable than either the features of personality or other elements of risk, such as poverty and family history. They do not support the idea of gender symmetry in IPV, but do suggest that conflicts involve a dyadic element that needs to be taken into account in future research.

Date Published: January 1, 2015