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Relationship Dynamics and Teen Dating Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2018
14 pages
This report presents findings on unique associations between relationship dynamics and teen dating violence (TDV), based primarily on NIJ-funded research and the broader literature on dating violence research, adolescent development, and romantic relationships.
The research focuses on the following issues: 1) which relationship dynamics increase the risk for TDV or protect against it; 2) how the experience of TDV in one relationship influences the dynamics in subsequent relationships; and 3) how the association between relationship dynamics and TDV changes during the transition from early teen years into young adulthood. Overall, the findings show that negative relationship characteristics, such as jealousy, verbal conflict, and controlling behaviors contribute to TDV. Over time, relationship dynamics and TDV may influence one another in a cyclical manner. Teens who experienced psychological abuse in their relationships were more likely to avoid bonding with their romantic partner a year later. Youth who had difficulty in creating bonds with their partners were more likely to experience physical victimization at the next yearly follow-up. Worrying about not being able to bond with a partner was associated with future psychological victimization. Although the research is preliminary, apparently early relationship experiences are important in future dynamics and subsequent TDV risk. The evidence suggests that in young adulthood, romantic relationships tend to increase in duration and are higher in quality. Based on these findings, programs and policies aimed at preventing TDV should take into account the positive relationship aspects that co-exist with the negative aspects in unhealthy relationships. 25 notes

Date Published: February 1, 2018