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Teen Dating Violence: What Do We Know About Dating Violence from Adolescence into Young Adulthood?
Dr. Mulford: Good afternoon. Welcome to the webinar.
I’m Carrie Mulford, a social science analyst at the National Institute of Justice and I’ve been managing our work on teen dating violence for over a decade. I also coordinate the Federal Interagency Work Group on Teen Dating Violence, which is co-hosting this webinar. So, back in the mid-2000s, when the Federal Interagency Work Group first started meeting, it became clear to us that there was a large gap in our knowledge about the progression of abusive relationship behaviors from the adolescent years into the young adult years. The two studies you’re going to hear about today have begun to fill in some of these gaps. Both studies have received funding from NIH and NIJ. Both studies have followed a group of young people through adolescence and into their early 20s, and both have had an explicit focus on dating abuse.
First, you’re going to hear about the results from the Toledo Adolescent Relationship Study, known as TARS. The principal investigator and presenter is Dr. Peggy Giordano. Dr. Giordano is a distinguished research professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University. Her research has focused on the character and impact of teen and young adult relationships as an influence on development in general and problem outcomes, such as teen dating violence, in particular. A Fellow of the American Society of Criminology, Dr. Giordano’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Justice, the National Institutes of Health, the W. T. Grant Foundation, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and results of the study have been published in journals such as the American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces,Criminology, and the Journal of Family Violence.
Next, you’re going to hear about results from the first few years of the Dating It Safe Study. The principal investigator and presenter is Dr. Jeff Temple. Dr. Temple is an associate professor, a licensed psychologist, and Director of Behavioral Health and Research in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. His research focuses on interpersonal relationships with a particular focus on teen dating violence. His research has been funded through the National Institute of Justice, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. He has nearly a hundred scholarly publications in a variety of high impact journals, including JAMA, JAMA Pediatrics, the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Pediatrics, and the Journal of Adolescent Health. He is an associate editor for the Journal of Primary Prevention and is on the editorial board of five other journals. Dr. Temple was recently appointed by the director of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services to vice chair a state task force on domestic violence. Locally, he’s the vice president of the Galveston Independent School District Board of Trustees.
Then, we’ll hear remarks from Amy Sanchez, who will serve as our discussant and put the research in the context of how it can be used for practice. Ms. Sanchez is the CEO of Break the Cycle, an organization that inspires and supports young people to build healthy relationships and create a culture without abuse. Ms. Sanchez has over 25 years of experience supporting community-based solutions to ending intimate partner violence. She was the driving force behind Casa Esperanza National Latina Network, for 7 years where, between 2008 and 2014, she brought in national funding and strategic partnerships to the organization. A nationally recognized expert in mission-based organizational development, Ms. Sanchez also has years of program experience, beginning her career as an advocate for women and children living with domestic violence, as well as facilitating Spanish-speaking batterers treatment programming for men who use violence.
Dr. Giordano: Thank you, Carrie. And thanks to everyone who’s participating in the webinar today.
Today, I’d like to talk to you about the results of a 10-year study than we’ve been conducting that is focused on teen and young adult relationships, and it does include attention to violence and other forms of abuse at every one of the five waves of interviews that we conducted with these teens as they matured into adulthood. But I think it’s important to point out that the study really started out as a more general investigation of what are these teen relationships like, because I think sometimes we tend to create the notion that the violent relationships are so fundamentally different than other early relationships and, yet, there is a kind of a conceptual thread connecting them, and so I hope to illustrate them today.
The second thing I’d like to do is highlight a relationship-based perspective on risk, progression, and desistance, and so we’re interested in those initial causes—what causes teens to become involved in the first place in these kinds of relationships—but also in the patterning over time, or the progression issue. And, finally, to consider stopping the violence because that does happen within our sample and in the samples of other investigations: that some people do, as they mature, begin to drop off or indicate that they no longer are using these forms of abuse within their relationships ... so, some of the why and how of that. And, finally, I’d like to suggest some implications of these findings for prevention and intervention efforts.
So, thinking about that initial risk, a key assumption is that teen dating violence is not about anger but fundamentally about power and control. And this was an important development within the field because it allows us to understand that this is not some sort of, “Oh, I just lost it. I didn’t know what I was doing,” but that there can be actually almost be a strategic element to some forms of abuse. So power and control is really important as a set of dynamics that have figured into early theorizing about teen dating violence and also that figure prominently in prevention and intervention efforts. So, some of you are probably familiar with the so-called power and control wheel, and this is a teaching tool and a basis for discussions about various forms of abuse, and one of the most elementary elements of that is the idea of male privilege, which in the teen power and control wheel there is called “using social status,” but the dynamics that are discussed are similar regardless of which form of the power and control wheel is being examined. So, “treating her like a servant,” “making all the decisions,” “acting like the master of the castle,” “being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.” So the idea of dominance really comes through strongly in these characterizations. And it’s interesting, because early research on adolescent relationships that’s not really focused on abuse has some distinct parallels with these themes, and some of the early research theorizing suggested that this transition that’s made from primarily being involved in same-gender friendships over to the romantic world, it’s fundamentally easier for boys. And this is kind of the idea that boys have this competitive/dominant style that they get going with in their same-gender friendships and, in effect, they kind of “steamroll ahead” into the new relationships with girls in a way that is just fundamentally more problematic for girls and an easier task for boys.
And a sort of related theme is that boys are relatively less “into” these early relationships. Fundamentally boys want sexual experience and to gain more partners if they can, whereas girls are more fundamentally interested in the relationship itself. And so, when you take those two things into account, then it’s reasonable to argue that boys have more power within these early dating relationships.
With that as a kind of a background, then, we begin to conduct interviews with a very large sample of teens that lived in the Lucas County/Toledo area, and this is a longitudinal study, as Carrie mentioned, that spans ages 13 to 29. It’s a diverse sample, and it’s also important to note that even though we relied on the school records to get initial names, it’s not a school-based sample, and we conducted most of the interviews in the respondents’ homes. And we made a good effort to follow these young people up as they became young adults, and we would wait for them even if they were in Iraq or incarcerated or wherever they might be. And we have been able to retain about 80% of the sample. And another important, I think, asset of the study is that we’ve been able to conduct in-depth interviews in most of the waves of data collection, so in every wave we have about a hundred interviews with male and female respondents, where they’re able to talk about the meanings of these early relationships, the character and dynamics of them, how they may act differently with one partner versus another, and it really provides a different lens on the character and impact of these early relationships.
So, let’s look at some of these general findings, the basics that we found within the TARS study. One of the things that you immediately think of when you teens is that they are not experienced, and I’m sure that figures into anyone that’s done this kind of work, thinking about it. But, what is interesting in this slide is that young women are actually reporting greater confidence in various aspects of “doing romance,” ranging from feeling confident about how to tell their partner to treat them, to breaking up with someone you no longer like, or, if you want to think of it in the opposite way, males consistently report higher levels of lack of confidence and more communication awkwardness with the partner. So, we found that interesting. It’s also interesting from a longitudinal point of view, that this did not happen as a cross-over. Over time, we thought the young men might get their game on and sort become the confident actors that we sort of think about in the abstract, and so you can see there that that gender difference is maintained across time.
So, similarly, in the idea that young men are just not that “into” it, we had several different scales, quantitative scales, that indexed kind of a love scale, and how much do you think about your partner, and various different ways of measuring being “into” it, and we do not find significant differences on average in, let’s say, the scores on the love scale. And this is just an example from a qualitative interview, that shows a young man who’s just broken up with his girlfriend and he’s speaking about not being able to sleep and not being able to eat and so on. It’s a little bit of a challenge to our notion of the “callous male” that’s only into it in terms of just objectifying and trying to get another notch on the belt. Not to say that that doesn’t also happen and it’s not a key feature of male socialization practices.
So, with those two slides as a background, it’s also interesting moving into the more focused work on teen dating violence, the average young men report greater levels of partner control relative to what the young women report in their responses in these interviews. And again, that finding is consistent across the ages. Now we’ve finished up through age 29 and we still have that difference all the way through the ages that we’ve studied so far. And you might think, well, maybe the young women are making control attempts but nobody is listening, but we also had an index measuring actual influence as perceived by the people in the study, and it’s interesting to note that young men actually reported that they had changed more things about themselves that their partner wanted them to do, also sort of complicating the traditional portrait. And then, when we get to a direct measure of power itself, this is just a standard measure of decisionmaking power, as measured by who usually gets their way when there is a disagreement, we also find a pattern that is consistent with the control findings in that on average young women report a somewhat more favorable power balance within their relationships, recognizing that a significant subset are saying that the relationships are somewhat equal or egalitarian. And that is, again, not to say that there isn’t a subset where there is this pattern of complete dominance on the part of the young men within their relationships.
Now, moving into the actual work on risk for teen dating violence, we do find, consistent with prior work, that boys controlling behaviors are associated with teen dating violence. That is a risk factor, when you see these intrusive control behaviors, but we also find that, adding a level of complication here, to suggest that girls’ controlling behaviors in a relationship are also linked to teen dating violence. And following from this, where couples are engaging in mutual control, that has been, in our study, been shown to be an especially risky pattern. Further, when we look at the idea, going back to our first slide, that it’s not about anger but about power and control, we do find that anger is a strong predictor of violence, and this study is a little different because we not only looked at sort of the trait-based kind of scales that are out there, but we had a relationship-based anger index that looked at how angry with the partner specifically. So, it wasn’t just the notion that we have individual differences in temperament that are driving these findings. And these associations are significant both when we look at teen dating violence and intimate partner violence which, in our case, is relating to the young adult period.
Dr. Mulford: Peggy, this is Carrie. I just had two people ask about the vertical line on, I think it’s slide 11, and what that axis represents.
Dr. Giordano: On the power slide, is that 11?
Dr. Mulford: Yeah, probably. I’m thinking these came in at slide 11, so if you could just go back to slide 11 for just a second, I’m sorry.
Dr. Giordano: That’s ok. Yes, this is sort of difficult, I appreciate that question. Where a lower score, the answer possibilities would be “My partner has more power than I do,” “It’s about equal,” or “I have more,” so those get a score of 1, 2, or 3, and so the higher the score the more favorable toward yourself, if that makes sense. I appreciate that question because that is a little confusing, absolutely. Thank you for that.
Okay. So we’ve had those findings and we think those are interesting, but even at that, there’s sort of an abstract quality to these findings because they still don’t give you the whole picture. They don’t tell you why are these young people angry and what is it they’re trying to control. And so that was a set of studies that we started working on to get at the content of these conflicts.
And so we looked at what was actually being contested in a lot of these early relationships that was associated with a higher risk for violence. And so we looked at what can be thought of as the content of these conflicts, as well as the form, the communication styles around these conflicts.
And I think if you guys are rushed for time and you have to leave and you don’t have any sense of what this talk is about, I’d like for you to remember the infidelity and infidelity concerns as being a very strong risk factor, because this comes out in a lot of our different analyses, and no matter how we do this — if we do it in a longitudinal context or in cross-sectional or whatever it may be — that is a very strong concern. And even when we think about things like time spent with peers — which, during the teen years, is sometimes a source of conflict — a lot of times it revolves back and ties back to infidelity concerns.
And then we also thought that the form of the conflict mattered, so that name calling and ridicule and the high levels of that within a relationship are related to violence. And when you have high levels of both — high levels of contested domain and there’s a high level of use of these negative forms of communication — that is an extremely strong package related to violence, net of the traditional correlates. All of these things would be net of traditional correlates such as family history.
So as we move forward in the study and get beyond sort of cross-sectional snapshots, then that allows us to look at how these young people are experiencing violence over time, and the longitudinal lens is an asset. And so even though we have this idea that once somebody is an abuser, they’re always going to be an abuser, that is not really the case in the sense that there is a lot of fluidity and variability across time. So among those reporting perpetration, for example, most do not report this at all waves of the study; only about 2 percent report this at all waves. And when you think of it as relationship-based, about 12 percent reported it within all of their relationships, so about 80 percent don’t.
Also of challenge to some of our traditional ways of thinking about this, we think about the various forms that IPV can take and whether it’s bidirectional or not. And we find that that as well changes over time within the same individual, who may have reported one type of violence at one wave and another at a subsequent wave.
So just to illustrate that in a little more concrete way here, if you take all of the people at wave 4 when they were in their early 20s, and if they did report some violence, what it looked like, about 72 percent changed by the time of wave 5. That is they either changed the form that it took or the violence stopped altogether. And this is even more striking in terms of fluidity if you look at those who changed their partners. So, 81 percent of them changed either the form or the violence stopped altogether.
Dr. Mulford: I think it looks like somehow the rest of the slides were not loaded on, so we’re going to try to fix that right now. In the meantime, I had a few questions for you. So you can answer while they’re trying to fix this, if that’s possible. If someone asked what the waves are signifying, can you explain what the waves of data —what that means?
Dr. Giordano: Sure. The waves would be the different interviews. So, we started off when the kids were 13, 15 and 17. And then as they became older we interviewed them a second time, so that would be the second wave. And then these varied in how much time elapsed between them, so that mostly it was a year but occasionally it was 2 years. And between wave 4 and 5 it actually was a 5-year interval. And so those are waves of interview.
Dr. Mulford: Thank you. And then the next question is what is the difference between no violence and a change in violence?
Dr. Giordano: That’s a good question too. If somebody started out and they told you that they were involved in a bidirectional violent relationship, then the form changing would be that the next time we came to them, they talked about perpetration only or victimization only; that would be a change in the form. Or violence stopped altogether by wave 5, which would be that they reported neither person was either perpetrating or no one was a victim in that relationship. And it was most often — you have to think about these young people maturing. And I’ll show a slide, if I’m lucky here in a minute, about the changes with age. And so of the change in form idea or the violence stopping altogether, it was more likely to be that it stopped altogether.
Dr. Mulford: Somebody asked, “Was it a self-report study?”
Dr. Giordano: Yes. This is a self-report study. Absolutely; it is. And so even when we have the partner information, that is provided by the local respondent.
Dr. Mulford: And then a more general question: There have been numerous studies that DV is a learned behavior. Did you find that either one or both of the teens witnessed DV in their homes? Was that something that was looked at?
Dr. Giordano: Yeah. That’s very important. And I’m really glad you asked that, because we get caught up in these relationship risk factors. And because I think there has been less research on that, that doesn’t mean that the family history of violence — both witnessing and experiencing, in terms of child abuse — is not a key risk factor. And so we’re very interested in that, and that remains a robust predictor.
But even when you look at the people, all of whom have family exposure, not all of them go on to engage in violent relationships or to be victims in violent relationships. And it’s about less than half in our sample — if you want to think about it that way — that have a violent family history go on to do that. But it’s a robust predictor and extremely important.
But yet, there’s this continuing interest in why is it that this person is violent in one relationship and they’re not later on when we come back to them, or they are. We actually have late-onset people who actually didn’t do it in an earlier wave, and then they went on as young 20-year-olds and actually became involved in a violent relationship. And the family history variable doesn’t do very much to help you with that, because that is sort of an anchor from your past, but it doesn’t really show with nuance why the same person that may have the family history acts one way in one relationship but somehow manages to not act that way in another, or changes within even one relationship.
Dr. Mulford: And the last question that we have was — and there were two questions sort of related to this. One person asked if there were Native American youth in your study. And then the other question was, “Did you find similar things for different races?” Or were you even able to test that?
Dr. Giordano: Right. We did not really have a strong population of Native Americans in this study. We have over-samples of Hispanic youth and over-samples of African American youth, which is consistent with our Lucas County/Toledo area. And really the patterns are quite similar by race and ethnicity; absolutely. In terms of the relationships between — you know, if you have anger and is that related to violence, or if you have controlling actions within a relationship, is that related to violence, and so on.
Okay. So just quickly, I don’t want to hog up the time, cause Jeff has some very interesting work; we’ve got to get to him. So this is just another way of looking at fluidity. But again, these are within-person changes that people are reporting to us at the different ages. And we can see that there is an increase with age into the early 20s, and the peak is in the early 20s, followed by decline. The other thing of interest is that there is a gender difference in perpetration, and girls are reporting higher levels of perpetration. And we could spend our whole time talking on that.
One of the things that’s interesting about having the qualitative data at hand is that some of these measures of violence, as we know, are extremely limited in what they convey. And so there’s been a lot of interest in trying to parse out what does a female perpetration mean. Is it all reactive, is it just play fighting, and so on? And on the basis of these interviews — like, 100 interviews — we really feel that there is some seriousness that is reflected in them in terms of meaning, in terms of anger, in terms of — you can just read these for yourself, that they’re kind of face valid as not nothing, and as part of the sequence, I think is what we would say. But recognizing that when we get into some of the most difficult narratives — this is Mallory talking about actually being spit on and held for 5 hours, people dragging you by your hair. We all know that this is a heavily gendered problem and it’s sort of difficult to get at that with just these little scales where you measure hit/no hit, slap/no slap. And so we constantly are grappling with that issue of female perpetration, and maybe in the discussion we could talk more about that.
All right. Now, a really interesting area that I think I want to conclude with is stopping the violence, because obviously that’s what all programs are interested in. But here we’re focusing on naturally occurring change that is for the most part not based on a particular program but just how people talk about stopping, because they do stop. Not all of them — Jeff is going to talk about different trajectories — but there is quite a bit of stopping going on. And so things that you might think would be involved would be the fear of some outside sanction like arrest, the notion of moving into these different roles like marriage or getting a job, or parenthood is one that’s been talked about a lot. But I will say that when you look at this in terms of actual statistical analysis, these role transitions are not reliable predictors of desistance from intimate partner violence, but that’s not to say they don’t play a role for subsets of people within our sample. But again we focus back on relationship-based changes, because it seems to us that when we analyze these lengthy narratives of people who had stopped the violence, that relationship-based motivations and actions were key to a successful change. Because even if you want to stop because you say, “I don’t want to go to jail,” you still have to work this through at the relationship level.
And so this is just kind of a more graphic codification of the strong flavor of relationship-based motivations that came out of these highly detailed narratives. But that’s not to say that avoiding jail wasn’t featured or that parenthood did not also play a role. It’s just that when you look at movement into parenthood, that is not a reliable predictor of desistance within the sample in the aggregate.
All right. So when we sort of dig down underneath why have you stopped violence — and our desisters here have been free of any violence for an average of 3.2 years. But this young woman is talking about this in relational terms, because she had been violent in a prior relationship and then when she moved into the next one, she was afraid of losing this relationship. And she says, “Now I know it doesn’t work.” But you can see that she was very angry and so on, but she’s learned to modify that. And a relationship motivation was key to her change effort.
And similarly, John here talks about this. He’s not saying, “I did this because I feared that I would go to jail,” but it was really influencing his whole sense of self. And he does mention there, “I don’t want my daughter to think that her dad’s violent, cause I’m not.”
Now, the previous little slides there were focused, like I think we all do, on violence. And so the point I want to make, if I can make it at all clear to you, is that I think, in a way, there’s been an overemphasis on violence, if that makes any sense at all. That of course we want to go in there and say, “Don’t be violent,” “We need to learn that violence is not manly,” and so forth. But a lot of the ways these young people talked about the changes they’ve made was actually making changes in relationship to the risk factors that I started out talking to you about. So as you see there, like Eric, he says, “I learned how to be faithful and stuff. I don’t want all that drama.” He’s locating that violence within a larger package of relationship difficulties, and he doesn’t just want any of it anymore. Or if you skip down there to Jennifer, she’s saying, “I’m not putting up with no more cheating from nooooo-body. I don’t care who you are. I’m not doing that.”
So her ultimate decision-making about partner choices is not really related, you know, “I’m not putting up with no more violence from nobody.” She’s actually talking about the risk factors rather than the violence itself.
And we see also changes, if you think of verbal amplification, that idea of using certain negative forms of communication as being an amplifier or a risk factor. Then they talked about changes in those same areas. “We talk about it now. I used to scream. I’m all calmed down compared to what I had been.”
So, I know that’s really quick through, but what we wanted to talk about is really that there is value in relationship-centered approaches to prevention and intervention. And the trick is to recognize that there are some didactic processes in play while avoiding any kind of victim blaming, or saying that men’s and women’s experiences of these things are the same. Because, of course, they’re not.
I think it would be very useful to move toward a more localized approach to discuss the power and control. And some people really do want to dominate the other partner, and that’s what they really are all about.
But often, control attempts are stemming from a desire to influence the partner with respect to specific contested areas.
Also, I think there’s value in getting this away from the power idea because if you think about it, power is sort of a cool thing; it’s something positive, in a certain way. And to position these control tactics, and even the use of IPV itself, as a reflection of relationship vulnerability and not strength, power — those are kind of good words that maybe should be taken out.
I think it’s also important to recognize that there are multiple scenarios that are associated with violence. In addition to this sort of overarching jealous, controlling boyfriend, who is important, you could overlay that with other scenarios, such as male infidelity, causing a lot of difficulty in these relationships and eventually leading to violence.
I think also, going back to the “it’s not about anger,” that we need to realize that emotions are part of all human activity and they have an intuitive relationship to violence. But there the trick is to discuss this in a way that doesn’t give people a pass and doesn’t allow people to say, “Oh well, I just lost it,” or “My emotions got the best of me,” because these things do have a rational underpinning and I think that’s why that original statement got going. It has a lot of value to it at some level. But you can’t say it’s not about anger because the findings just don’t support that.
So I think it’s important to consider attention to a broader array of relationship dynamics rather than to just view these warning signs. And I think people have done that with the laundry list of warning signs, and I think that’s maybe not enough because all of those things to me revolve around the endpoint. You’re already there in this unhealthy dynamic, and it’s important to sort of back up, back up, back up, and consider a broader array of relationship dynamics that are part of the sequence.
And I think also it’s important to avoid the binary where gender is concerned — “only women get hurt,” “men tend to laugh when they’re hit,” “women only hit in self-defense” — because those things are not really supported by the data.
When you do that, you talk about this in a way that may be understandable to the young people that you’re talking to, but then that allows you to move toward underscoring and underlining that there are real differences — when all is said and done — in intimidation and fear and injury that disproportionately and negatively influence young women’s lives.
I think the desistance work, which is just starting, has some real potential because it’s kind of like, “why do people stop using drugs?” We have a lot of research on that, but we really don’t have that much naturalistic research on why people stop engaging in these negative, relationship-based behaviors. And we need to do, obviously, more prevention and intervention work very early on so that these things do not become chronic and firmly entrenched.
So, thank you. There we go. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them over email because I know that was fairly fast.
Dr. Temple: Hey, thank you all for having me.
I just looked. There’s about 400 attendees, which is about 390 people more than read my articles, so I’m very excited to give this presentation.
I really am honored also to be presenting alongside Peggy. I really admire her work, and her study is a real nice complement to our own.
You know, I think some of the data that she presented might seem like it contradicts with what I’m about to present, but it really doesn’t, because if you look at her violence rates, it follows a similar pattern as ours. Ours is just in a bit younger of a sample. And I’m curious to see how over time if it starts to sift a little bit more similar to what she found.
Peggy also mentioned a couple of things that I want to talk about just really briefly, that relate to our presentation. What I’m presenting on is teen dating violence over time, looking at the longitudinal nature of it. And one of the things that Peggy mentioned was that a lot of the research that’s out there doesn’t give us the whole picture of what’s going on.
That is the case with my study certainly, but I think what Peggy and, now, I am doing, is painting more of that picture than a lot of what we had to go with a decade ago when a lot of the research was cross-sectional. So now we can start to see who goes into unhealthy relationships, who persists, who gets out of those relationships, and what factors relate to that.
So that’s what I’m going to talk about here today.
I will also put out a couple caveats. One being that I got a little excited in putting the presentation together, and I think I probably have too many slides than I can present on. I’m presenting on two studies. I’m going to focus more on the first study, and then if we have time I’ll briefly mention that second study, but the slides will be available and of course I’ll be available by email.
The second caveat is that it’s very number heavy, these slides, but I’m going to put it in human terms as much as possible, mainly because that’s how I understand them, and have help with my methodologist in understanding them otherwise.
All right, so, that being said, I want to acknowledge my funders who are my favorite people in the world, including more so than my kids and wife. So, thank you, funders — and that is the National Institute of Justice and also the National Institutes of Health.
All right, so I’m just going to very briefly go over these, and Peggy did as well. But I want to pay attention to psychological violence and cyber violence.
So, research I don’t think is available to distinguish cyber abuse from the other forms of violence. It seems to be more a vehicle by which people perpetrate the other types of violence, so whether it’s extortion for sexual favors or threatening or forcing them to send a picture wherever they are, you know, “You said you’re with Suzie. Send me a picture to prove it.” Checking, repeatedly, over and over again the phone numbers, demanding passwords. Those kind of all fit into the psychological, emotional, verbal abuse.
So I don’t think that cyber is a distinct form of abuse, and so far, the research is kind of suggesting that.
The other one I want to talk about is psychological, emotional, verbal abuse. I think that that is oftentimes — and I’m preaching to the choir here, I know — but oftentimes when we talk to the community, there seems to be a “Oh well that’s just psychological abuse, you know, that whole ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’” Really, that adage needs to be flipped around and anyone who’s worked with women in shelters and so forth knows that.
The psychological abuse tends to be the thing that leaves the most long-term harm, both physical and psychological. How I explain it to people is a soldier in Iraq always having to be hypervigilant, and with the threatening, and then all at the same time being called stupid, and ugly, and fat, and worthless, and alienating that person from friends and family so they can’t even get support.
So I just want to spend a few minutes talking about psychological abuse.
When we look at prevalence, through decades of research we know that about 1 in 10 teens is going to be a victim of severe physical dating violence. This is what the Youth Risk Behavior Survey has told us every year that it’s conducted, and it has remained pretty much unchanged.
We also know that 1 in 4 teens will experience some form of dating violence. There’s a little bit of difference depending on the study done and how we measured the different types of violence.
Psychological abuse is one that’s curious in that some studies find astronomically high rates, like 95 percent, and it kind of loses its utility at that rate. So, I think we have to get a better handle on how we measure psychological abuse and what it actually means. And I’ll talk a little bit about that when I talk about one of my studies coming up.
So consequences you all know all of this stuff, but mental and physical health, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, of course.
Poor school performance is something that I used to get into the schools. Way back when, when I started my longitudinal study, we went into school districts and said, “Hey, I want to ask your kids about drugs, and sex, and violence. Is it cool if you let me in?”
Then I realized that I needed to change my approach, and I started to talk more about school performance, and dropout, and factors that affect school performance and dropout, including being in an unhealthy relationship. And so that’s how I built my way into those schools.
And it’s true, right? It’s pretty hard to do Algebra when you’re worried about whether or not your boyfriend is going to choke you after school.
Low self-efficacy I think is another big one I wanted to point to, especially with respect to relationships. If you’re being psychologically abused and told repeatedly that you suck and you’re worthless, that’s going to beat you down. And it’s going to be harder to find a healthy relationship after the fact because you might not think that you deserve one, or might not think that you can be in one, or deserve it. You know, that sort of thing. I think ultimately one of the biggest consequences is that, and being vulnerable to re-victimization in later relationships.
We know far less about how violence persists over time, especially with respect to severity and in the different types of violence. Again, very few studies have done this, especially with those latter two points with respect to the developmental pattern of multiple types of TDV victimization simultaneously.
So a lot of times we tend to — we being researchers, including myself — tend to do a study on physical violence, and then do a study on psychological abuse, and then a study on sexual violence. So we haven’t really looked at how they hung together, and then also how they changed status over time.
What Peggy presented is one of the few things out there that looks at how violence operates over the long term. Who gets out of relationships? Who stays in? Whether or not if you’re a victim at one stage predicts whether or not you’re a victim at another stage. It’s really important too, because if we can find what is predictive of someone staying in an abusive relationship, or being re-victimized versus someone getting out of a violent relationship or not getting into another violent relationship, than that has tremendous implications for prevention and intervention programs.
All right. So there’s a whole bunch of stuff that we know, and this is not an exhaustive list, but there‘s a whole bunch of stuff that we know that predicts dating violence.
I’m only going to focus on a couple in today’s talk, mainly witnessing family violence and substance use. Then we’ll also talk about gender, which is not up here.
I really liked what Peggy had to say about infidelity. One of the things we’re finding repeatedly is that jealousy seems to be a huge factor in violent relationships with teens. So that’s something that we’re looking at more and more.
So with respect to witnessing family violence and substance use, we know that they’re linked. We know that a kid who is exposed to family violence is more likely to both perpetrate dating violence and be a victim of dating violence. We know that.
We also know that substance use is strongly linked to dating violence — so drugs and alcohol. In a study that we did, we found that use of drugs and alcohol predicted dating violence perpetration and victimization one year later, even when we controlled for their baseline rates of violence. So we know that.
What I think we know less about is how this exposure to violence or substance use — or for that matter, gender — affects the change over time. If you’re exposed to violence, does that mean that you’re more likely to stay in a violent relationship once in one? If you drink alcohol, is that one of the predictors of staying in a violent relationship? Or drugs?
It’s kind of what Peggy talked about when she said, “Why violence in one relationship and not the other despite a similar history?” So what we’re trying to do here is uncover some of that “why,” answer some of that “why.” Why might one person stay in a violent relationship versus another person get out of a violent relationship?
All right. So I’m going to talk just briefly about gender. I thought what Peggy did was excellent in terms of the importance of not ignoring female-to-male violence. We don’t quite know exactly how gender — how female-to-male violence operates. What is the motivation behind it? A lot of that was because we weren’t really researching it until relatively recently. You know, we kind of said, “It’s probably self-defense; it’s probably reactionary.” And I think when we looked at it a little more clearly, like Peggy said, that maybe it is not necessarily that way.
I’ll get back to the why that it’s still a woman’s issue in terms of there’s no such thing as a battered husband syndrome in my opinion, but I’ll get back to that in a second. What we do know is that with adults, that there is pretty much no difference in terms of acts of violence. And with adolescents, we actually see females perpetrating substantially more violence than males.
Now, that being said, there’s several things that relate to that, right? So first it could be that girls are overreporting or that they’re interpreting “play fighting” — they’re answering [the question] as if play fighting was real fighting, whereas boys might be underreporting.
Dr. Temple: It was one of the things that we’re finding repeatedly is that jealousy seems to be a huge factor in violent relationships with teens. So, that’s something that we’re looking at more and more.
With respect to witnessing family violence and substance use, we know that they’re linked. So, we know that a kid that is exposed to family violence is more likely to both perpetrate dating violence and be a victim of dating violence. We know that. We also know that substance use is strongly linked to dating violence.
So, drugs and alcohol is a study that we did. We found that use of drugs and alcohol predicted dating violence, perpetration and victimization one year later, even when we controlled for their baseline rates of violence. So, we know that. What I think we know less about is how these, this exposure to violence, our substance use, our, for that matter, gender, effects the change over time.
So, if you’re exposed to violence, does that mean that you’re more likely to stay in a violent relationship once in one? If you drink alcohol, does that mean, is that one of the predictors of staying in a violent relationship, or drugs?
It’s kind of what Peggy talked about when she said why violence in one relationship and not the other, despite a similar history. What we’re trying to do here is uncover some of that why, answer some of that why. Why might one person stay in a violent relationship versus another person get out of a violent relationship?
I’m going to talk just briefly about gender. I thought what Peggy did was excellent in terms of the importance of not ignoring female-to-male violence. I think that we don’t quite know exactly how gender or female-to-male violence operates, what is the motivation behind it and a lot of that was because we weren’t really researching it until relatively recent. We kind of said it’s probably self-defense, it’s probably reactionary and I think when we looked at it a little bit more clear, like Peggy said, maybe it is not necessarily that way.
But, and maybe just let me, I’ll get back to the why that it’s still a woman’s issue, in terms of there’s no such thing as a battered husband syndrome, in my opinion, but I’ll get back to that in a second.
What we do know is that with adults that there is pretty much no differences in terms of acts of violence and with adolescence we actually see females perpetrating substantially more violence than males. Now, that being said, there’s several things that relate to that, right.
So, first it could be that girls are overreporting or that they are interpreting play fighting as, they’re answering as if play fighting was real fighting, whereas boys might be underreporting. Another thing is how we measure it and again we’re not doing a great job of measuring it. The National Institute of Justice recently held a measurement meeting to start answering that question a little bit better.
So, I think we will get a better handle on that over time, but if you look at something like, and I’m sure most of you all on the call have looked at the Ray Rice/Janay Rice video of the elevator incident, if they were taking one of my surveys, they might both look like they’re equally violent because she did push/shove him and he hit her. So it might look like similar rates of violence or acts of violence, but if you watch the video, clearly it was not the same thing.
She was knocked out unconscious on the elevator floor and it was a completely different dynamic. So, we might be missing some of that with our current measures. So, that’s that caveat, but I do want to point to one of my recent studies that show why it’s important not to ignore female-to-male violence.
I think when we do that, we do a disservice to girls and women because we know one of the biggest predicators of violence victimization is violence perpetration. So, even if girls and women are not doing a whole lot of harm with their perpetration, it’s still increasing their risk of victimization. So, when we ignore it, we ignore a large part of the contribution to their victimization.
So in this study, basically what we looked at was witnessing father-to-mother violence and witnessing mother-to-father violence. What we found for both boys and girls was that it seemed to be that witnessing mother-to-father violence was most predictive of whether or not a boy or girl would then go on to perpetrate dating violence. So, witnessing your mom perpetrate violence seemed really important. We guessed at why, it could be that that is just a sign of more overall violence in the home or that you relate more to your mom, you spend more time with your mom, you’re more likely to mimic her behavior.
Just wanted to quickly put that up to show you why it’s not a good idea to ignore female-to-male violence altogether. So, the research for this one. In the current study, we used what is called Latent Class Analysis, you don’t necessarily need to know the name of it and if we have questions about it, you can email me and then I will ask my methodologist on the side and then report back to you as if I knew what I was talking about.
But basically, we used it to identify whether there are distinct subgroups based on past year victimization of dating violence and then used Latent Transition Analysis, which is looking at it over time to explore whether adolescence change victimization status over time and whether these changes are the stability in these victimization statuses are influenced by whether or not they were exposed to violence and also their gender.
So, basically to put in to human terms, we look at their status over time, whether or not they were a victim of different types of violence, one violence over the other, multiple types of violence, and we looked at whether or not they stayed in those same groups. So, if they stayed in multiple types of violence victimization or one type of violence or no violence, and then we looked at whether their exposure to family violence and also their gender predicted whether or not they would stay in those classes over time.
Now, if I can catch my breath. So, what we’re doing is this study that we started back in 2010. We had a little over a thousand subjects, students, most of them were freshmen. Seventy-five percent were freshmen at the time of the start of the study. 25 percent were sophomores. We followed them annually in the spring semester for the last 6 years, we’re actually hoping to do a seventh year and then I need to talk to Peggy about this, we’re also pilot testing right now, partners in the study and we want to add partners as well to double the sample size and include the originally recruited sample and their partners. But for now, what we’re focusing on is the years two, three, and four. This is basically when they’re sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
You can see that we have pretty good retention rates, almost as good as Peggy’s, throughout the whole thing it was 73 percent. And what we really screwed up on, if you look at between years three and four, we lost a, we only had a retention rate in those years of 87 percent and that was because I didn’t, I was learning quickly on how to retain subjects that graduated from high school and you can see that we improved that the next time when all participants were out of high school, and then I’m happy to report in our last interview, we actually had a retention rate of 105 percent from the previous wave, so we’re getting better at this.
Let’s see, the other important thing about this. A little bit more females than males and then we had a really nice tri-ethnic sample composed of mostly White, Hispanic, and African American. About 30 percent in each, which is I think a researcher’s dream come true. So, dating violence victimization was measured with the Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory. We looked at sexual victimization, relational victimization, which is things like try turned my friends against me, spread rumors about me, threatening behavior, which is things like threatening to hit me or throw something at me, physical violence, he/she kicked, hit or punched me.
And then the emotional/verbal victimization. So, that was with 10 items and it’s kind of like what I was talking about earlier with the oversensitivity of our psychological abuse items. If we were to name someone as psychologically abusive or abused based on any positive response to those 10 items, like we did with the other abuse scales, it would have been about 90 percent of kids in our sample were experiencing psychological abuse either as a perpetrator, victim, or both.
So, what we did was, we arbitrarily cut it off at four or more, so if a student answered positively to those emotional/verbal victimization items three or less, they were considered to be nonpsychologically abused. And lastly, our measure of lifetime exposure to interparental violence, we asked that at the lifetime, at time two, actually let me back up, we asked that lifetime at time one and then at time two, we asked past year, so basically if they answered yes to either lifetime at time one or yes to past year at time two, they were considered exposed to interparental violence. This was more serious types of violence, so the weakest violence, weakest being in quotes, I should say, is pushing and shoving, so it was more severe physical violence that kids were witnessing.
Alright, so this is one of the things I’m going to go really quickly through. This is basically, we’re just trying to see using these different abuse categories, sexual, relational, threatening, psychological, and physical, and see where kids landed, whether or not they were just psychologically abused or physical and so forth.
So, we’re looking at two things. One, we want to see how they hold together across time. So, if you’re in one Latent class, for instance, you’re in the psychological abuse class, then does that predict being in a psychological abuse class at the next time point and then so forth. If you’re not abused, is that predicative of staying in nonabusive relationships over time. Then we threw in a couple of things that we wanted to see, predict, who stayed and who didn’t stay persisted and desisted in these different classes.
That’s where we look at whether history of interparental violence and gender or “gende” as I say here [referring to PowerPoint]. Oh, there’s the “r”, it went down to the bottom. Ok, so basically what we found was, I’ll just say here’s some of the fun descriptive statistics.
If you look across the sexual abuse range from 14 to 16 percent depending on wave, relational abuse 11 to 14 percent. Emotional/verbal abuse victims, even with our conservative definition, was 41 to 43 percent. Threatening behavior victims 13 to 14 percent and physical abuse victims 17 to 20 percent.
Alright, so here’s kind of the meat of the talk. We created three different Latent classes based on how the kids responded. These are all mutually exclusive, so you can’t be in more than one class. We kind of forced them into this class based on their answers and you can see the most prevalent group was nonvictims, which is good, across all waves and that ranged from 51 to 57 percent. That’s the blue line on your screen and then emotional/verbal victims was the next largest class and ranged from 32 to 38 percent, and that’s the red line on your screen.
Lastly, we looked at physical and psychological victims, so this is people that experienced both physical and psychological abuse, and that ranged from 10 to 12 percent across the years. Alright, so basically the fun stuff here is now we looked at, looking at just whether or not they stay in the same class, we saw that overall youth in a specific class tended to stay in that class the following year. So, for example, youth who were nonvictims in wave 2 had a high probability of, that’s the .79, of remaining non-victims in wave three with that probability of remaining non-victims increasing from wave three to wave four.
So, basically if you were a nonvictim at wave one, you were likely to remain a nonvictim. Similarly, if you were a psychological abuse victim, you were likely to remain in that category and if you were a physical abuse victim and psychological abuse victim, you tended to stay in that same status in subsequent waves.
Again, I will say that this does not necessarily contradict Peggy’s findings because this is a more finite period, whereas Peggy’s was over time. So, I’d be interested to look at how these fall out as we start to look over more waves.
Alright, so when we factor in the gender and interparental violence, we see that most youth remain in their initial status regardless of gender. So, for the most part, regardless of whether you’re a boy or a girl, you remained in that same status, so either nonvictim, or psychological abuse victim, or physical/psychological abuse victim.
There were a few exceptions, most males in the physical/physiological victim status transitioned to the emotional victims status, instead of remaining in the same status. So they actually got a less severe status relative to females.
Then, males in the nonvictim status were more likely to remain nonvictims from wave three to wave four than were females. So males, relative to females, were even more likely to remain nonvictims over time.
And then a final example, females in the physical/psychological victim class, so these were females who experienced both physical and psychological abuse, were more likely to remain in that status compared to males. So it seemed that females in the more severe victimization class were more likely to stay there relative to males.
And then if we look at exposure to family violence, we see that youth who were not exposed to family violence had the highest change of being in a nonvictim status, so that’s what you would expect. And that’s consistent with research, so if you were not exposed to family violence, you were more likely to be nonvictims. And then followed by the emotional/verbal, physical/psychological statuses, which is consistent with what you would think: the more family violence you were exposed to the more you were to be in a severe victimization class.
Like with gender, most youth remained in their initial status regardless to lifetime exposure to interparental violence. That said, compared to unexposed youth, those who were exposed to family violence had a lower probability of remaining in the same status across years, and also youth that were exposed to family violence had a higher transition probability of changing to a more severe victim status compared to nonexposed youth. So, basically if you witnessed family violence you were more likely to 1) be in a violent relationship to begin with and 2) to transition to a more severe violent relationship over time.
Ok, so this is kind of the combined, but for the sake of time I’m going to skip over these couple and go to the theoretical implications. And basically what this suggests is there is a certain level of stability on victimization status throughout high school, that nonvictims are likely to remain nonvictims and victims to remain victims, and the chance of remaining in the same status, victimization status, increased the following year for victims of dating violence, so then the stability of maintaining increased over time as a result of older adolescents having more stable romantic relationships. So I really want to compare this to Peggy’s, in that stability of relationship is what may be related to the increased stability in violence victimization over time—if they’re with the same abusive or nonabusive partner.
All right, so some of the practical implications, if a transition did occur from one status to another, it seemed to be that the emotional/verbal victims and the physical/psychological victims generally move from a more to a less severe status, so that’s good news in that prevention programs could capitalize on the sort of natural decline in the severity of violence by some individuals.
All right, so, I think you can read all of that stuff, I think one of the biggest limitations of this particular study is that we had 25 percent of our participants graduate from high school between waves 3 and 4. And that could have influenced their relationships and dating partners, patterns rather, a new pool of dating partners and that could have effected their transition probabilities and the prevalence of violence in general.
We also did not consider the severity of teen dating violence and victimization, so I think that’s something that we want to include in future studies.
As promised, I’m going to skip over most of this part. I am going to do the shorthand version and basically say that we looked kind of at the same thing about this time, looking at alcohol use and dating violence, same deal, and basically what we found was that youth who used alcohol were more likely to be in a violent relationship and also, if they were to transition, to transition to a more severe type of violent relationship. I am going to cruise through here and go straight to probably a thank you thing. There you go. Alright, thank you and follow me on Twitter at Dr. Jeff Temple, I have a strong 300 followers and am looking to increase that. Alright I’m all done.
Dr. Mulford: Thank you Jeff. We are going to go ahead, the ball has already been passed to Amy, so we’ll hear some remarks from Amy Sanchez. Thank you
Ms. Sanchez: Great, thank you. It was very interesting listening to both of the presentations. I want to thank Peggy and Jeff for their comments and learn more about their studies. And, it really is an opportunity I feel to be able to present to all of you and I as well as Jeff echo the nearly the 400 participants that are on the webinar. That is a great indication of how important research really is in teen dating violence and in [inaudible] partner violence in general. So thanks again for this opportunity to present to you. So in preparing my remarks I was thinking about and—I haven’t had the opportunity to completely look at the studies that were presented today—and, so, I thought that I would provide some more general points for you all participants to think about from an advocacy perspective.
I do think after listening to the presentations that some of what I’m saying here is relevant to what they were presenting and some of the issues that were raised from Peggy and from Jeff. One thing for me is really clear—the importance of research in our field cannot be understated. Findings have a direct impact on the policies that we pass and that we make on our practice in the field and also on funding and funding decisions, whether from the federal perspective but also local governments, state governments and also family foundations, and corporations who are getting involved in funding this work. Research has a direct impact on that so I really wanted to, I’m glad to hear that we are starting to do more funding in teen dating violence specifically.
So a couple of context pieces I wanted to share foundation understanding that I have after having worked in the field for over 20 years. I worked with victims and perpetrators of violence. Obviously women, men, children, and young people as well. A couple of things that are clear to me. One is that internet relationships are very complex. Often in the field we talk about the perfect victim—perfect in quotes—and my experience really is that there are very few perfect victims. There are also so very few perfect perpetrators. The majority of the people that I have worked with over the years have complex lives. I would say, and again I try to personalize things, but we all have complex lives. Issues, for example, of low self-worth or addiction, and external factors like racism, homophobia, transphobia — those issues are all real and people bring those issues to their relationships. It was interesting when I was listening to Peggy speak about some of the self-reporting methods. Obviously I am not a researcher and highly respect both Peggy and Jeff but one indication to think about in the future when we look at self-reporting, especially working with young people, I can’t tell you all the times that we at Break the Cycle have worked with young people and done very primary basic education around what relationships look like, what healthy looks like, what unhealthy looks like, and many, many young people come up and say my girlfriend has been doing this to me, my boyfriend has been doing that to me. I didn’t know that what I was living in was teen dating violence. So I think that self-reporting could potentially be a challenge for us to get some of the depth and complexity that we are thinking of.
Another thing that I wanted to share that I am very proud of actually. I think in field in general of intimate partner violence, domestic violence but also teen datingviolence specifically I think we are just beginning to use research finding to sharpen our own critique and to challenge ourselves to do great work. So I love that shift and I think it is a good thing for the future.
I think because going back again to the complexity of relationships in general and teen relationships are not different from that, I think from a research perspective there’s real challenges to capture that context. So at least from my perspective much of the research that we do right now is acontextual in the field and also is kind of void of cultural consideration, so I think that there is a huge opportunity for us to continue to develop both of those things to really try get at some of the critical answers that both Jeff and Peggy were raising.
Talking a little bit more around context I think that Jeff raises this in his presentation—looking at some of the measures, some of the scales that are being used in the field—and I’m glad to hear that we are hopefully going to be addressing those. One of the easiest examples that I would give is the conflict-tactic scale. That scale is used pretty widely from what I understand in research but it has also been widely criticized, as lacking that context and consequence sequence that we are talking about and often times in the studies when the scale is used the way in which it’s worded, which I think is what Jeff was talking about earlier, it tends to produce findings that show that girls are as violent as boys are, or even more so. Also, or, for another example, women are as violent as men, are or more. My experience as an advocate, and I would hasten to say advocates on the ground throughout this country doing the work it just doesn’t speak to my experience, so I think that it’s incumbent on all of us, both practitioners, and in obviously academics and research, is to really delve deeper into what are we looking at when we are looking at context and consequence. So I wanted to share that with you.
I think that another example would becultural. I think there was an earlier question of whether if any of the young people were Native Americans. I did hear Peggy and Jeff talk about African American and Latino participants, but again, we know the culturally specific or culturally sensitive scales are few and far between as well, and so I think that again, in order for us to try to really delve deeper into what is happening here, I think that would be another area that we could look to.
So I am going to take advantage of the last two minutes that I have to say for me as a practitioner and as an advocate in the field, if I could put forward some a couple of ideas and things I think would be great for further scholarship. I would like to take the time to do that. Like I said earlier, investing and developing culturally sensitive measures, looking at context and consequences to the violence—I think that’s critically important. The next thing would be to fund research study where researchers and practitioners collaborate throughout. I think this will address some of the context and consequence issues I’ve been raising but I also just think it’s good practice so that you’re bringing both the expertise in academia as well as the expertise of practice and coming together to really paint that full and complex and complete picture that we know exists. And finally I think—and Jeff mentioned it earlier—the issue of technology. Again, this for me is one of the most pressing issues. When we are talking at the cycle with people who are victimized, it’s nearly 100 percent of the time technology is being used. And I think from a policy perspective—but also from a legal perspective—laws in this country have not caught up with technology and abusive technology and I think for the field that is of grave concern and that is something we need to get our hands around it, and I think that research and researchers can help us to do that in a really great way. With that I will turn it back over for questions.
Dr. Mulford: Thank you much Amy. So Peggy and Jeff if you can unmute yourselves, Amy will also be unmuted for the Q&A. A couple of question HAVE come in. A couple of folks are interested in whether you only looked at heterosexual relationships or did you also look at LGBTQ relationships, and that’s for both studies, so if you could all comment on that we will start with Peggy.
Dr. Giardano: Fine. Yes , and so we are very interested in that issue and we have measures of gender identification and gender behavior, and we have asked that at all the waves of the sample, so you don’t get a huge N for being able to do the kinds of analysis you might like to do with every different type of gender identity but we have done some work in this and we had a small grant that we got to specifically look at the experiences and the relationship dynamics of sexual minorityyouth and we’re very interested in it. We also have by virtue of the selection we have quite a few gender minority youth in the qualitative samples, and so that’s been interesting as well to get that deeper perspective and there is, again, some fluidity in identification across the whole sample, so that is also a challenge because people may have had the experiences but then they might not fully identify across all the waves as being lesbian, bisexual, questioning whatever. They may not have the same identification, and so it gets to be difficult to make definitive statements, is what I’ll say.
But we have toyed with the idea of just trying to work with anyone who has either talked about this in a behavioral way or an identification way and go back to them and do qualitative interviews with all of those respondents, because it’s clearly not just heterosexual relationships that have these issues, for sure, and I think some of our theoretical points are useful because they’re not really dependent on being a product of male socialization. If you take that away from the gender dynamic and just say that these are contested arenas that many emerge that seem to be predictive of violence and the use of these negative forms of communication that is also relevant for sexual minority youth as well, so it is not as much dependent on a heterosexual lens in a way.
Dr. Temple: We also have looked at sexual identity and orientation in our studies. I’ll say the first couple of years we stupidly asked, because I wasn’t working with someone, I was working with myself and I’m stupid, not really, but in that case I was and finally when I got someone that knew what they were talking about they started to change the way asked it. We initially asked about a relationship and then asked is it the most recent relationship, then after if that most recent person was male or female and doing that we only found that 2.5 percent of our sample identified as sexual minority youth, but when we asked it in a better way, more on the Kinsey scale way to completely heterosexual to completely homosexual, we found that close to 10 percent of our youth were something other than completely heterosexual. And then we published a study recently in Partner Abuse a good few months ago in the November edition and we found there was that for the most part completely heterosexual and completely homosexual youth didn’t look any different with respect to dating violence but what we did see is that the sexual minority youth that identified as bisexual were substantially more likely to perpetrate and be victims of violence and also experience a host of other risky behaviors. So what we suggested, and we borrowed from other people, is that it might be that dual stress model—that they don’t fit into heterosexual and they don’t fit into homosexual, so there’s that extra stress of not fitting into a group. But I second everything that Peggy says. We’re certainly are in the infancy with respect to dating violence and homosexuality but as she stated is the theoretical models really fit all forms of relationships.
Dr. Mulford: Thank you very much. We don’t have a ton of time left. I just want to address a question that came up, I think, for both studies whether there were American Indian and Alaska Native youth in the samples and you guys can contradict me or add to what I’m going to say, but one of these studies took place in Toledo, Ohio, and the other in Galveston, Texas, so, the percentage of the population is going to be too small for them to have done specific analyses on that population. However, NIJ has devoted a large amount of resources and effort into putting together a national baseline study of violence against American Indians/Alaska Natives, so, I don’t think the results of that are out yet, but that should be forthcoming. Now, if anyone would like to add to that you’re welcome to.
Dr. Temple: I don’t have anything to add, you’re right on with what we had, I think in our entire sample of over about 1,050 kids, I think we had three identify as American Indian. But it’s certainly of interest to me, I’ve consulted on a couple of projects of people in the field and I’d really like to do more of it and I would like to see more out there.
Dr. Mulford: So then, the last question I saw on the feed that I think we’ll raise today and then call it a day, is there are concerns, and Jeff touched on this a little bit in his presentation, about the self-report and women being maybe either more honest or feeling less stigma to report certain types of behaviors. I wanted to give Peggy a chance to comment on that also, and Jeff if you had anything to add on that, and Amy if you have anything more that you wanted to say on that topic. Let me get some healthy skepticism from our participants.
Dr. Giordano: I know this is kind of the standard criticism, is of the conflict-tactic scale and other sorts of indices like that. And so, there is a kind of a resistance to thinking about these high rates as being sort of meaningful on some level, and I do feel that by having the qualitative interviews that we do have a kind of a triangulation there, where we can see the way they answered on the structured questionnaire but we also have them talking for an hour and a half or two hours with 80 pages of context. And so, you can’t really say that it’s stripped of context when you have 80 pages of them talking about the meaning and impact of these things on their lives. And you know, if they’re basically delusional that may be true, but young women actually do accord some significance to these events as being stressful and unfortunate or problematic or whatever, that no, they’re not as serious in a head-to-head matchup, but they are something, there’s something out there and no we cannot afford to just bracket it off by saying that the CTS is flawed. And I think that there is just every indication, for example, we have scales measuring the normative climate around girls use of violence and boys use of violence and girls uniformly score higher that they find it more understandable that they would use violence across a whole range of different contexts, if they were put down, if somebody was cheating, if x occurred, if y occurred, they scored significantly higher in the direction of more acceptability relative to the males. Which is an important finding, because it does show that the 40 years of work of people in this field, including Amy and others, it’s getting through and all these changes are happening and they are trickling down and they’re having the effect that they were intended to have. So boys don’t understand it as a cool behavior, they don’t think it’s acceptable even if they may do it eventually and they end up in our sample as someone who is a perpetrator, but uniformly having girls not see it as a serious, in general, or not that it’s not serious but they say that it could be understandable why I might want to do this, I think this could be a target for intervention efforts where we have to bring them up to an understanding that this can be part of the sequence where some of our young men said some things like “if she hits me in the chest or something, if she hits me really hard like a man, then she has to expect that she’ll get hit like a man.” Which is like something we’ve heard several different times, it’s almost like a little cultural saying. So that there’s a sense in which entry into a pattern, even though it’s not as significant as what a male might do, it is part of the sequence girls and it is associated with injury. And so just cannot afford any longer to bracket it off, explain it away, it’s self-defense. It’s really, I think, a definite problem for moving forward, in my view.
Dr. Temple: I will second everything that Peggy says. I don’t see it as a, I guess when I think about it, I don’t see it as taking us back or preventing us from focusing on this as a women’s issue because I think that’s still where, if we look at female-to-male violence, that is where I think our focus should at least be some of the time, because of the whole idea that violence begets violence. And if we ignore that, then I think we ignore their victimization as well. I’m sensitive to all of it as well, I was telling someone, you guys, last night, yesterday, when we were preparing for this call, that I gave a talk and was a little bit more flippant about female-to-male violence and was quickly corrected. And I get it, but I think what Peggy said was right on, and I think that we have to do a better job as researchers listening to you guys, and also vice versa.
Dr. Mulford: Amy, you want the last word.
Ms. Sanchez: Sure. I would say that I think one of my recommendations is having researchers partner with practitioners. I think, having been a practitioner for a long time, and most advocates will say, “I don’t really know perfect victims” right? And I don’t know perfect perpetrators. And so I think that understanding complexity, it’s not to minimize girls’ uses of violence, but I think we really need to truly understand what that is for young women, the context of that and the consequence. And I go back to those words over and over again. And I think that there’s a perfect opportunity for researchers and practitioners to do that work together, since they both bring something that’s very special. In order for us to really figure this out, we need both. And I think both perspectives and both expertises are critically important to really addressing this issue.
Dr. Temple: I know that you said Amy would have the last word, but I wish that I would have said what Amy just said because that’s what I meant. [laughter]
Dr. Mulford: All right, so Jeff gets the last word but it’s really Amy’s. Thank you all so much for coming. I want to be respectful of everyone’s time, we are at 3:31, and we really enjoyed having you all involved. Thank you all very much and thank you to our professors.
Dr. Temple: Thank you all.
Ms. Sanchez: Thank you very much.
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