Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 1–22 | Cite as

Courtship Violence Among College Students: A Comparison of Verbally and Physically Abusive Couples

  • Nancy J. Shook
  • Deborah A. Gerrity
  • Joan Jurich
  • Allen E. Segrist


This study used a modified version of the Conflict Tactic Scale (Straus, 1990) to measure the expression of verbal and physical aggression among 572 college students (395 females and 177 males) involved in dating relationships over the previous year. Results indicated that 82% (n = 465) of the total sample reported having engaged in verbally aggressive behavior with a dating partner over the past year, whereas 21% (n = 116) admitted to acting in a physically aggressive manner over the same interval. No significant gender-based difference was found for verbal aggression scores; however, females were significantly more likely to report using physical force than were male students. Male and female students who used verbal aggression were characteristically similar to each. Both had experienced aggression from a parent as children and had drunk alcohol within 3 hours (before or after) an argument with a dating partner. Male and female students who admitted using physical force were dissimilar except that both had experienced parent-child aggression. For male students, having witnessed conjugal violence and their general drinking patterns were also significantly related to their using physical force, whereas for females, the use of physical force was associated with drinking alcohol within 3 hours of an argument with a dating partner.

courtship violence college students verbal aggression physical aggression 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy J. Shook
  • Deborah A. Gerrity
  • Joan Jurich
    • 1
  • Allen E. Segrist
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family StudiesPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette
  2. 2.Department of Educational StudiesPurdue UniversityWest Lafayette

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