Relationship violence negatively affects well-being, and is costly for individuals, couples, children, and society. Research has been conducted on teen dating violence (TDV) and marital relationships, but little research has focused on early adulthood, the period in which intimate partner violence (IPV) increases exponentially in frequency and seriousness. IPV necessarily occurs within a relationship context, but knowledge of the dynamics of young adult violent relationships is especially limited. Our symbolic interactionist theory emphasizes respondents'perceptions of the meanings and impact of IPV, and the need to identify universal and uniquely gendered aspects of IPV as individual's transition from adolescence to adulthood. We build on a large, prospective longitudinal study of adolescent and young adults'intimate relationships (Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study-TARS). In addition to four waves of previously collected interview data (n=1,319), currently we have funding to conduct a fifth wave of interviews with the youngest cohort (about one-third of the existing sample), focusing on three forms of violent victimization and perpetration (physical violence, psychological abuse, and sexual coercion). We request funding to conduct interviews with the two older cohorts (ages 24 &26 at interview) who are at the peak ages of IPV, and to conduct separate in-depth interviews with both partners of a subsample of respondents (50 couples, n=100) reporting experience with IPV. We will address the following specific aims: 1: To analyze the incidence, prevalence, and patterns of relationship abuse from adolescence to young adulthood. The longitudinal design (ages 13-26) permits assessments of the sociodemographic patterning and developmental progressions of IPV experience. We will explore early risk factors and contemporaneous circumstances associated with trajectories of perpetration and victimization. We will identify factors linked to IPV escalation and persistence, and determine the long term effects of IPV on behavioral and emotional health as well as adult union formation and stability. 2: To examine similarities and differences in the nature, qualities and dynamics within violent and non-violent relationships. We focus on the subjectively experienced dynamics of intimate relationships that we hypothesize amplify the risk of violence, and identify ways in which gender affects these subjective experiences. We include attention to positive features of intimate relationships which have not figured heavily into either research or prevention efforts, but may be critical to understanding relationship dynamics associated with heightened risk, as well as decisions to continue or leave a violent relationship. The TARS elicits information about multiple relationships at each wave, so we can examine within-individual changes across time and different relationships. 3: To identify situational contexts that amplify risk for violence. In most instances, relationship violence is not a routine event highlighting the need for research on situational factors that amplify risk. We will document the progression of abuse within relationships by assessing cognitive, emotional, behavioral and social factors that influence patterns of escalation and de-escalation.

Public Health Relevance

Our analysis of social relationships and their influence across the period of adolescence into adulthood encompasses the NICHD goal of applying "a life course approach to research on health" and fits squarely in the mission of NICHD to investigate the health and well-being of individuals, families and populations. Relationship violence negatively influences physical health and emotional well being, and is costly for individuals, couples, children, and society. The study is also consistent with the 2007 Long Range Planning Report, which calls for research on the "the mechanisms through which social and economic realities shape individual health, especially among disadvantaged populations" with context as the key mechanism, including dyadic relationships.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Social Sciences and Population Studies Study Section (SSPS)
Program Officer
Newcomer, Susan
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Bowling Green State University
Social Sciences
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Bowling Green
United States
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Johnson, Wendi L; Giordano, Peggy C; Longmore, Monica A et al. (2014) Intimate partner violence and depressive symptoms during adolescence and young adulthood. J Health Soc Behav 55:39-55
Alvira-Hammond, Marta; Longmore, Monica A; Manning, Wendy D et al. (2014) Gainful Activity and Intimate Partner Aggression in Emerging Adulthood. Emerg Adulthood 2:116-127