JOURNAL ARTICLE

A longitudinal examination of psychological, behavioral, academic, and relationship consequences of dating abuse victimization among a primarily rural sample of adolescents

Vangie Ann Foshee, Heath Luz McNaughton Reyes, Nisha C Gottfredson, Ling-Yin Chang, Susan T Ennett
Journal of Adolescent Health 2013, 53 (6): 723-9
23910572

PURPOSE: It is widely held that being victimized by a dating partner during adolescence has negative consequences, yet few longitudinal studies have examined those consequences. This longitudinal study examined the effects of psychological and physical (including sexual) dating abuse victimization on internalizing symptoms, substance use, academic aspirations and grades, and relationships with friends and family.

METHODS: This four-wave longitudinal study (N = 3,328), conducted in two rural North Carolina counties, spanned grades 8 to 12. Random coefficient analyses were used to examine prospective lagged effects of each type of dating abuse on each outcome and to examine sex and grade as moderators of lagged effects.

RESULTS: Consequences varied by type of dating abuse experienced and sex. For both boys and girls, psychological victimization predicted increased alcohol use and physical victimization predicted increased cigarette use. For girls, physical victimization predicted increased marijuana use, and psychological victimization predicted increased internalizing symptoms; the latter effect was only marginally significant for boys. Physical victimization marginally predicted decreases in the number of close friends for boys. Neither type of victimization predicted increased family conflict or decreased academic aspirations or grades, nor was there evidence that consequences varied by grade.

CONCLUSIONS: Although causation cannot be concluded with longitudinal designs, our findings suggest that being victimized by a dating partner may result in detrimental consequences for adolescents. The findings demonstrate the importance of identifying and implementing evidence-based interventions for preventing dating abuse, including efforts to prevent psychological abuse specifically.

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