Youth Violence Trajectories and Proximal Characteristics of Intimate Partner Violence

By Herrenkohl, Todd I.; Kosterman, Rick et al. | Violence and Victims, May 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Youth Violence Trajectories and Proximal Characteristics of Intimate Partner Violence


Herrenkohl, Todd I., Kosterman, Rick, Mason, W. Alex, Hawkins, J. David, Violence and Victims


Analyses first examined the developmental course of intimate partner violence (IPV), beginning with trajectories of youth violence. We then examined potential mediators of prior youth violence trajectories in models predicting later IPV perpetration as an outcome. Potential mediators include risks associated with the individual (e.g., current alcohol and drug use and mental health diagnosis), characteristics of a perpetrator's partner (e.g., use of alcohol/drugs and history of antisocial behavior), and aspects of the surrounding community (e.g., neighborhood norms favorable to violence and drug use). Data are from the Seattle Social Development Project, a longitudinal study of over 800 individuals followed from elementary school to young adulthood (age 24). Findings suggest that both chronic and late-increaser patterns of youth violence elevated the likelihood of later IPV perpetration. Partial mediation effects of the relation between youth violence and IPV were found for variables related to one's partner and the surrounding community. Individual characteristics of the perpetrator were not uniquely predictive of IPV when measured as a risk index and modeled along with other risk factors. Findings indicate that the risk of IPV could be lessened by addressing earlier forms of violence and by intervening to reduce risks within and across domains of influence.

Keywords: intimate partner violence; youth violence; predictors; trajectories

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious national problem that affects a large percentage of families across demographic groups (Andrews, Foster, Capaldi, & Hops, 2000; Ehrensaft et al., 2003; Magdol, Moffitt, Caspi, & Silva, 1998; Straus, 1990; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Estimates of the number of adult perpetrators of IPV have, in some cases, approached 50% (Andrews et al., 2000). Others find a prevalence closer to 20% in community samples (Ehrensaft et al., 2003). Findings from the National Family Violence Surveys (Straus, 1990), first conducted in 1975, found that 160 of every 1,000 families experienced partner violence; that number was nearly unchanged when data were last collected in 1985. In the National Violence Against Women Survey, Tjaden and Thoennes (2000) estimated that nearly 2 million women are physically assaulted annually in the United States; the majority of these are victims of IPV.

Victims of domestic violence can experience a range of adverse mental health consequences, including depression and anxiety; a sizable number of victims also sustain physical injuries that require medical attention (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2002). Given the extensive public health burden of IPV and the costs to individual victims, viable prevention models should be a priority (National Institute of Justice, 2004).

A first step toward preventing IPV perpetration is to identify modifiable risk and protective factors (predictors) that can serve as targets for intervention (Institute of Medicine, 1994; National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2002). Some prior research has documented predictors of IPV, but few studies have done so prospectively. Moreover, little is known about whether IPV perpetration emerges from earlier forms of violence (e.g., violence in adolescence), in which case prevention efforts could begin before IPV perpetration becomes a problem.

In this article, we first seek to examine the developmental course of early adult IPV (age 24), beginning with trajectories of youth violence from ages 13 to 18. We then turn to analyzing proximal characteristics of IPV modeled as potential mediators of these earlier violence trajectories to understand whether a progression from earlier violence (to IPV) is mediated by factors associated with an individual perpetrator, his or her partner, or the surrounding community. As background to the study, we provide additional information on the developmental course of violence as documented in prior research. …

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