The Consequences of Violence: Perpetration, Victimization, and their Joint Influence on Well-Being throughout the Life Course

Andrew Wilczak, Bowling Green State University


Prior research that places violence into the larger life course context tends to take one of two approaches. Victimization is typically framed as a catalyst that ultimately leads to a variety of negative outcomes, including limited socioeconomic attainment (Macmillan and Hagan 2004), mental health problems (Hodges and Perry 1999), and its effect on the transition from adolescence into adulthood (Hagan and Foster 2001; Haynie et al. 2009). On the other hand, research on own violence typically focuses on the numerous sociological and psychological factors that predict engagement in this behavior (i.e., Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990; Agnew 1992; Anderson 1999). However, prior research has shown a significant overlap in the causes and timing of own violence and victimization (Lauritsen et al. 1991; Schreck et al. 2008; Jennings et al. 2010), but has not considered the possibility that own violence and victimization may jointly affect adolescent development. The goal of the present study is to address this limitation in the research. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, I assess how own violence and victimization independently and interactively affect 1) educational attainment in early adulthood, 2) depression in adolescence and early adulthood, and 3) the risk of future violence and victimization in adolescence and early adulthood. I also allow for these processes to differ by gender. My results indicate that, in general, both own violence and victimization independently increase the risk of future violence and victimization, are independently associated with elevated levels of immediate depressive symptoms, and independently increase the risk of limited educational attainment. My analyses do not show any evidence that being severely victimized and extremely violent leads to exponentially reduced well-being; rather, my analyses suggest that own violence may buffer the negative effects of violent victimization.