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Relationship Violence Among Young Adult Couples.

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Berger, Amanda.
Wildsmith, Elizabeth.
Manlove, Jennifer.
Steward-Streng, Nicole.
Briefing Materials
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The prevalence of violence in romantic relationships is difficult to measure. In part, this reflects the fact that men and women who experience violence in their relationships may be reluctant to report these acts because they want to protect a partner; they may assume that nothing can be done to prevent future violent acts; and they may fear retaliation. Moreover, most surveys of relationship violence provide a limited picture of the scope of the problem because they only gather information on the most severe types of violence or they rely solely on the report of one partner--typically the woman. This brief extends previous work by using national data to examine relationship violence among young adults, as reported by both partners in a relationship. Child Trends drew on data collected from young adult couples (ages 18-28) in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to examine past-year relationship violence as reported by both partners in each relationship. Specifically, we estimated the frequency and severity of relationship violence across all couples, as well as levels of relationship violence among married, cohabiting, and dating couples. We found that four in 10 young adult couples in our sample reported some type of relationship violence and that certain relationship characteristics were linked to higher or lower levels of violence. For example, cohabiting couples reported the highest levels of relationship violence (in contrast to married and dating couples), and relationship violence tended to be higher among couples with lower levels of education, couples with children in the household, and couples in which partners differ by race or ethnicity. These findings may help to identify couples at particular risk for relationship violence and its subsequent negative outcomes, including sexual risk behaviors, sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancies. (Author abstract)

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