Risks in Adolescence That Lead to Intimate Partner Violence in Young Adulthood

NIJ-funded study examined the developmental and familial pathways to intimate partner violence involvement in young adulthood and identify partner influences on intimate partner violence.

October 13, 2017

...researchers found that young adults who had unskilled parents or parents who experienced intimate partner violence were at an increased risk of exhibiting antisocial behavior as a teenager.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has a long history of research in intimate partner violence and recognizes the importance of understanding the factors during adolescence that put individuals at risk for intimate partner violence as adults. To help identify those factors, NIJ funded the Oregon Social Learning Center to run secondary analyses on a longitudinal sample of 316 heterosexual young adults and their current romantic partners. The main goals were to examine the developmental and familial pathways to intimate partner violence involvement in young adulthood and identify partner influences on intimate partner violence. Since the 316 young adults also participated in the Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) study as children, another goal of the study was to see if this program showed long-term intervention effects on intimate partner violence in young adulthood.

The researchers found that young adults who had unskilled parents or parents who experienced intimate partner violence were at an increased risk of exhibiting antisocial behavior as a teenager. In turn, antisocial teens were at a heightened risk of experiencing intimate partner violence in their young adult relationships. This pattern was stronger for males than females. The researchers also found that aggressive children who engaged with delinquent peers in adolescence led to intimate partner violence victimization and perpetration in young adulthood. These findings on developmental and familial factors give us insight on the possible origins and maintenance of behaviors that lead to intimate partner violence in young adulthood.

Partner influences on the relationship were significant. Lower levels of relationship satisfaction were related to increased levels of physical and psychological victimization. If a partner used alcohol or marijuana, it increased the likelihood of intimate partner violence perpetration. For instance, women’s substance use was associated with increases of perpetrating physical violence, and men’s substance use was associated with increases in sexual violence perpetration. These findings provide additional research on how the use or abuse of multiple substances may influence the likelihood of intimate partner violence.

In relationships with abuse, a majority of the abuse was reported as mutual, referred to as bidirectional relationship abuse. The rates were also relatively high.

Bidirectional relationship abuse rates in intimate partner violence relationships: Psychological abuse: 91 percent; Physical abuse: 71 percent; Sexual abuse: 66 percent; Abuse-related injuries: 27 percent

The bidirectional findings indicate the need to better understand the relationship context and culture where bidirectional intimate partner violence is present, as well as explore both prevention and intervention efforts for both men and women.

The LIFT prevention program improved social and problem-solving skills and reduced physical aggression in childhood, yet there were no long-term intervention effects found in reducing intimate partner violence in young adulthood.

About This Article

The work described in this article was supported by NIJ grant 2013-VA-CX-0007 awarded to Oregon Social Learning Center.
This article is based on the report “Predicting Intimate Partner Violence for At-Risk Young Adults and Their Romantic Partners” (pdf, 20 pages), by Joann Wu Shortt, Sabina Low, Deborah M. Capaldi, J. Mark Eddy, and Stacy S. Tiberio.

Cite This Article

National Institute of Justice, “Understanding Risks in Adolescence and Partner Influences That Lead to Intimate Partner Violence in Young Adulthood,” October 13, 2017, NIJ.gov: https://nij.gov/topics/crime/intimate-partner-violence/Pages/risks-in-adolescence-that-lead-to-intimate-partner-violence-in-young-adulthood.aspx

Date Created: October 13, 2017