, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 500-517

Understanding Adolescent and Family Influences on Intimate Partner Psychological Violence During Emerging Adulthood and Adulthood

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Abstract

The intergenerational transmission of violence directed toward intimate partners has been documented for the past three decades. Overall, the literature shows that violence in the family of origin leads to violence in the family of destination. However, this predominately cross–sectional or retrospective literature is limited by self–selection, endogeneity, and reporter biases as it has not been able to assess how individual and family behaviors simultaneously experienced during adolescence influence intimate partner violence throughout adulthood. The present study used data from the Iowa Youth and Families Project (IYFP; N = 392; 52 % Female), a multi–method, multi–trait prospective approach, to overcome this limitation. We focused on psychological intimate partner violence in both emerging adulthood (19–23 years) and adulthood (27–31 years), and include self and partner ratings of violence as well as observational data in a sample of rural non-Hispanic white families. Controlling for a host of individual risk factors as well as interparental psychological violence from adolescence (14–15 years), the results show that exposure to parent–to–child psychological violence during adolescence is a key predictor of intimate partner violence throughout adulthood. In addition, negative emotionality and the number of sexual partners in adolescence predicted intimate partner violence in both emerging adulthood and adulthood. Exposure to family stress was associated positively with intimate partner violence in adulthood but not in emerging adulthood, whereas academic difficulties were found to increase violence in emerging adulthood only. Unlike previous research, results did not support a direct effect of interparental psychological violence on psychological violence in the next generation. Gender differences were found only in emerging adulthood. Implications of these findings are discussed in light of the current literature and future directions.