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Developmental Antecedents of Violence Against Women: A Longitudinal Approach, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
9 pages
A longitudinal study examined the developmental factors that were antecedents of physical and sexual violence perpetrated against young women by acquaintances; the study used data from a 5-year study of victimization and perpetration among 2,269 college students.
The National Institute of Mental Health funded the study. The research used a theoretically based multi-causal model that included characteristics related to the victim, the perpetrator, and the environment. The participants included more than 1,500 women and 800 men who were demographically representative of undergraduate women and men in State-supported universities and born in 1972 and 1973. The surveys gathered information when the participants were 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 years old. The analysis focused on experiences with interpersonal violence at three stages in the life course: childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Results revealed a significant effect for the type of adolescent experience on the total number of sexual victimizations across the 4 years of college, as well as the total number of physical assaults. Women who had experienced both sexual and physical violence during adolescence and the first year of college remained at higher risk for further injury in the subsequent years of college relative to women who had experienced no victimization or only sexual victimization. Women who experienced no victimization reported the lowest levels of psychological distress on measures of anxiety, depression, and loss of control. Victimization in the first year of college affected women’s values and attitudes, sense of self, and knowledge of peer sexual experiences. In addition, men who had engaged in adolescent sexual assault were four times more likely to sexually assault during the first year of college than were men without a prior self-reported history of sexual assault. Findings indicated that childhood and adolescent experiences with family violence and sexual abuse mean that some women are at greater risk than others for further sexual victimization as a young adult. 1 reference

Date Published: January 1, 2001