Since no known research has examined the relationship between acceptance of dating violence, perpetration of dating abuse, and mental health, the research reported in this article explored this complex relationship and examines whether psychological abuse perpetration mediates the relationship between acceptance of dating violence and mental health (i.e., internalizing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and hostility).
Existing literature indicates that acceptance of dating violence is a significant and robust risk factor for psychological dating abuse perpetration. Past work also indicates a significant relationship between psychological dating abuse perpetration and poor mental health. The current study obtained three waves of longitudinal data from 1,042 ethnically diverse high school students in Texas. Participants completed assessments of psychological dating abuse perpetration, acceptance of dating violence, and internalizing symptoms (hostility and symptoms of anxiety and depression). As predicted, results indicated that perpetration of psychological abuse was significantly associated with acceptance of dating violence and all internalizing symptoms. Furthermore, psychological abuse mediated the relationship between acceptance of dating violence and internalizing symptoms. These findings suggest that acceptance of dating violence is an important target for the prevention of dating violence and related emotional distress. (Publisher abstract modified)