Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Continuity of adolescent and early adult partner violence victimisation: association with witnessing violent crime in adolescence
  1. A L Spriggs,
  2. C T Halpern,
  3. S L Martin
  1. 1Department of Maternal and Child Health, 2Carolina Population Center, 3Injury Prevention Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr A L Spriggs, Department of Community Health Sciences, Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2301, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA; aspriggs{at}


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

Methods: Participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (n = 4794) 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 victimisation within the 18 months prior to Wave II interview (1995–96), and physical and sexual partner violence victimisation within the 18 months prior to Wave III interview (2001).

Results: Twelve per cent of respondents reported dating violence victimisation at Wave II. Witnessing violent crime was positively associated with victimisation in crude (OR = 2.11, 95% CI 1.56 to 2.86) and adjusted (AOR = 1.53, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.15) analyses. Of the adolescent partner violence victims (n = 549), 32% reported continued victimisation 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 to 0.84). In cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, associations between violent crime exposure and victimisation did not vary by age, gender or race/ethnicity.

Conclusion: Adolescents exposed to violent crime experience an increased risk of partner violence victimisation in adolescence and continuing victimisation into adulthood. Targeting dating violence prevention and intervention programmes 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.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis. Dr Spriggs’ time on this project was supported by the Carolina Population Center, NICHD NRSA predoctoral traineeship, grant number NIH-NICHD T32-HD07168.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval All Add Health procedures and forms were reviewed and approved by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Public Health Institutional Research Board; the present analysis was deemed exempt from review.