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Gender-Specific Patterns of Teen Dating Violence in Heterosexual Relationships and their Associations with Attachment Insecurities and Emotion Dysregulation

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Teen dating violence is a complex issue associated with several deleterious consequences. Previous studies emphasize the importance of considering the heterogeneity of teen dating violence experiences to better understand this issue and its correlates. In this perspective, the present study aimed to identify gender-specific patterns of teen dating violence in heterosexual relationships based on directionality (victimization and perpetration) and forms of violence (psychological, physical and sexual). In addition, this study aimed to investigate how these patterns are differentially associated with attachment insecurities and emotion dysregulation. A total of 3100 adolescents who reported being in a heterosexual romantic relationship (mean age = 15.92 years; 60% girls) completed questionnaires on teen dating violence, romantic attachment and emotion dysregulation. Latent class analyses revealed four distinct patterns of teen dating violence. The first three patterns, namely Low dating violence (40% of girls and 54% of boys), Mutual psychological dating violence (34% of girls and 33% of boys) and Mutual psychological and physical dating violence (14% of girls and 5% of boys), were found for both genders. The last pattern differed greatly based on gender and was labeled Mutual psychological dating violence and sexual victimization in girls (12%) and Multiple dating violence victimization in boys (8%). Higher levels of emotion dysregulation and attachment insecurities were found in adolescents experiencing more complex patterns of dating violence. This study contributes to the development of teen dating violence prevention and intervention programs by identifying gender-specific patterns of teen dating violence and documenting their associations with important trauma-informed correlates.

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The authors wish to thank the teenagers and the school personnel that participated in the Youths’ Romantic Relationships Survey. Our thanks also extend to Catherine Moreau for project coordination.

Authors’ Contributions

V.T. conceptualized the aims and hypotheses of the study, analyzed and interpreted the data and drafted the paper; M.H. was the principal investigator of the Youths’ Romantic Relationships Survey and contributed to the drafting of the paper; M.F. assisted in the interpretation of the data and helped with revisions of the paper; M.B. was a co-investigator of the Youths’ Romantic Relationships Survey and contributed to the planning of statistical analyses and helped with revisions of the paper. All authors read and approved the final paper.


This work was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (grant number 103944).

Data Sharing and Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Correspondence to Martine Hébert.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The questionnaire and methodology for this study was approved by the Human Research Ethics committee of the Université du Québec à Montréal (Ethics approval number: 133_e_2020).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Théorêt, V., Hébert, M., Fernet, M. et al. Gender-Specific Patterns of Teen Dating Violence in Heterosexual Relationships and their Associations with Attachment Insecurities and Emotion Dysregulation. J Youth Adolescence 50, 246–259 (2021).

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