Abstract: Going Beyond the Survey Data: Dating Violence in Emerging Adults (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

493 Going Beyond the Survey Data: Dating Violence in Emerging Adults

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Elizabeth D. Torres, MPH, Student, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX
Yu Lu, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Jeffrey Temple, PhD, Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
A majority of dating violence (DV) research focuses on prevalence, correlates, and consequences. Less is known about the context surrounding particular dating violent incidents. To address this gap, we conducted a mixed methods study of DV among a large ethnically diverse sample of emerging adults.

Data are from Dating it Safe, a longitudinal study of the risk and protective factors of DV and other adverse health behaviors. The sample for the present study consisted of 108 emerging adults who reported physical dating abuse victimization at Wave 8 (spring 2017). On average, participants were 20 years old, majority female (68%), and Hispanic (35%), White (20%), African American (32%), Asian/Pacific Islander (3%), and mixed/other (9%). We augment 8 waves/years of quantitative data through surveys with open-ended questions in Waves 6-8 on specific DV experiences. Specifically, participants were asked to expand on “the most serious time” they perpetrated and were victimized by DV.

Out of the 108 participants (who reported experiencing some form of DV), 50% reported experiencing repeated DV since age 18 and 38% reported physical DV victimization from different partners. Three participants reported DV victimization in the survey, but indicated in their open-ended answers they were merely “play fighting.” Participants reported the primary cause of a DV (perpetration and victimization) incident were jealousy (“she caught me texting my ex”), relationship control, financial issues, and disagreements around sex (e.g., sexual rejection) with severe cases often involving alcohol. A re-occurring theme was that participants’ own use of violence can be a result of being a victim of DV. Indeed, in answering the question, “the most serious time you perpetrated DV,” many participants reported that they were “fighting back.” While the types of DV identified by participants mirrored what we found quantitatively, we were able to examine how the different types of DV (co)occur. For example, some participants reported that physical DV often resulted in sexual abuse (either they have sex to appease the partner to “make-up” or the physical violence escalates to date rape). Another theme identified is that psychological abuse escalated to physical violence. For example, a participant reported they were “in a heated argument… he started…throwing me around.”

Using mixed methods data, we address a gap in knowledge by providing valuable information on the context around specific DV instances. In addition to reporting 8 waves of data on DV, we will use participant words to describe various themes identified (e.g., violence begets violence; psychological abuse preceding physical violence; physical violence preceding sexual violence).