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Continuity of Adolescent and Early Adult Partner Violence Victimization: Association with Witnessing Violent Crime in Adolescence
  1. Aubrey L Spriggs,
  2. Carolyn Tucker Halpern,
  3. Sandra L Martin
  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, United States
  1. E-mail: spriggs{at}


Background: Although exposure to peer and family violence are documented risk factors for adolescent dating violence, less is known about the relationship between violent crime exposure and dating violence victimization.

Methods: Participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n=4,794) aged 13-17 years self-reported witnessing violent crime (someone being shot or stabbed) in the 12 months prior to Wave I interview (1994-95), physical partner violence victimization within the 18 months prior to Wave II interview (1995-96), and physical and sexual partner violence victimization within the 18 months prior to Wave III interview (2001).

Results: Twelve percent of respondents reported dating violence victimization at Wave II. Witnessing violent crime was positively associated with victimization in crude (OR=2.11, 95% CI 1.56-2.86) and adjusted (AOR=1.53, 95% CI 1.09-2.15) analyses. Of the adolescent partner violence victims (n=549), 32% reported continued victimization into early adulthood; after adjusting for gender, age, urbanicity, and childhood maltreatment history, witnessing violent crime in adolescence was negatively associated with having non-violent relationships in early adulthood (AOR=0.40, 95% CI 0.19-0.84). In cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, associations between violent crime exposure and victimization did not vary by age, gender, or race/ethnicity.

Conclusion: Adolescents exposed to violent crime experience an increased risk of partner violence victimization in adolescence and continuing victimization into adulthood. Targeting dating violence prevention and intervention programs to geographic areas with high levels of violent crime may be an efficient strategy to reach higher risk adolescents. Reducing community violent crime may also have spillover effects on partner violence.

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