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Relationship Abuse During the Transition From Adolescence to Young Adulthood

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2017
2 pages

This article summarizes two reports on NIJ-funded research that examined the consequences of abuse in adolescent relationships and its impact on the transition to adulthood.


The grant reports are entitled, "Life Course, Relationship, and Situational Contexts of Teen Dating Violence: A Final Summary Overview," and "Patterns, Precursors, and Consequences of Teen Dating Violence: Analyzing Gendered and Generic Pathways." The study on which these reports are based collected data from approximately 1,000 young adults (ages 25-28) who previously participated in the Toledo Adolescent Relationship Study when they were in seventh, ninth, or 11th grade. This longitudinal sample provided data for better understanding of the trajectories and consequences of relationship abuse during adolescence through the transition into young adulthood. As used in the study, dating violence in adolescence and intimate partner violence in adulthood includes physical and sexual violence, psychological abuse, and stalking by current or past romantic or consensual partners. The study found that by the end of young adulthood, a majority (56 percent) of the study sample reported perpetrating or being victimized by some form of relationship abuse. Both perpetration and victimization peaked around age 20 and then gradually declined through age 28. Overall, those who experienced relationship violence in adolescence reported more episodes of relationship violence in young adulthood. Those with adulthood onset of relationship abuse on average reported more concentrated abuse within a shorter period. Where relationship abuse was occurring, couples were more likely to be living together without being married, in casual sexual relationships, or breaking up and getting back together multiple times while dating. Key factors in stopping abusive behaviors were a shift in the acceptance of violence, improving communication styles, and addressing problematic behaviors. 1 figure

Date Published: August 1, 2017