Six waves of community based data were collected from 120 participants (60 females) ages 18-25, within a romantic relationship. Electronic data collection occurred monthly, spanning six months. Participants were screened for prior dating aggression involvement in order to recruit a high risk sample. The measures used to assess relevant variables were: verbal, physical, and sexual dating aggression involvement (CTS2), alcohol use (AUDIT, SMAST, DDQ, NIAAA binge drinking), and marijuana use (Drug Involvement Scale for Adolescents).
To test our hypotheses regarding a feedback loop, multilevel models (MLMs) were used to assess changes in marijuana and alcohol use following dating aggression. The following model was used for each form of aggression involvement:
Level 1: Yi = β0 + β1(Age)+ β2(Relationship Length) + β3(Aggression Involvement) + β4 (Alcohol or Marijuana use Time 1) + ri
Level 2: β0 = γ00 + γ01(gender) + u0
β1 = γ10
β2 = γ20
β3 = γ30
β4 = γ40
Consistent with hypotheses, psychological aggression involvement was associated with an immediate increase in both alcohol use and marijuana use. Additionally, physical aggression was associated with an immediate increase in marijuana use.
The current study aimed to identify factors that may contribute to increased risk for future involvement in dating aggression. It tested the theoretical expectation of a feedback loop between dating aggression involvement and an increase in subsequent risk factors for aggression involvement, namely alcohol and marijuana use. The current study adds the literature by addressing proximal consequences of dating aggression that may reflect potential maladaptive coping. Discussion will address the potential use of marijuana and alcohol as self-medication, increasing the likelihood of substance use’s known risk for dating aggression involvement. Implications for both intervention and prevention programming will be addressed.