, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 325-339

Abusive Males and Abused Females in Adolescent Relationships: Risk Factor Similarity and Dissimilarity and the Role of Relationship Seriousness

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Abstract

This study examines male-to-female physical abuse within adolescent relationships. Analyses use data describing 603 opposite sex relationships reported during Wave II of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) matched with data on the individual characteristics of both the reporting females and their male partners from Wave I. In addition to the occurrence of physical abuse, relationship data included information on the seriousness of the relationships. Female and male participants' scores on 14 individual-level variables were used to predict abuse. The first set of analysis found that male-to-female abuse was predicted by 6 individual characteristics of males and 6 individual characteristics of females. Only one of these characteristics, grade point average (GPA), was a significant predictor of the occurrence of male-to-female abuse for both male and female relationship participants. The other characteristics were each only predictive for either males—Verbal IQ, Fighting, Attitudes About Sex and Relationships, and Past Sexual Behavior, or females—Mother Relationship, School Attachment, Drinking Behaviors, and Depression. Analyses also revealed that associations between different individual-level characteristics and relationship abuse were dependant on relationship seriousness. These findings suggest that relationship seriousness, which did not itself predict abuse, may act as a catalyst for the influence of some individual-level characteristics on the occurrence of abuse in relationships.