Sociology Ph.D. Dissertations


Familial Background and Relationship-Specific Correlates of Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifecourse

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Alfred DeMaris (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Peggy Giordano (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Wendy Manning (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Monica Longmore (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Sherri Horner


Past research has examined the phenomenon of intimate partner violence (IPV), with recent increased focus on IPV among adolescents and young adults. Moreover, prior work examining IPV among young adults often looks at familial factors such as child maltreatment, and current relationship dynamics such as jealousy and control, but does not consider these two domains simultaneously. This is potentially problematic, as individuals’ relationships in multiple domains are affected by their socialization experiences within the family. Relatedly, research examining family effects on IPV often focus solely on childhood maltreatment and interparental aggression, failing to include other meaningful aspects of family life, such as the parent-child relationship. Finally, while trajectory analyses have been conducted in the past, most are confined to IPV occurring among older adults. Given the highly fluid and complex nature of adolescence and young adulthood, the examination of IPV across time may be especially insightful during these stages of the life course. Using five waves of longitudinal data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (TARS), the current project relies on social learning and life course theories to investigate the antecedents and trajectories of adolescent and young adult experiences with IPV perpetration and victimization. Results from fixed-effects, random-effects and growth-curve analyses indicate both parental violence (i.e. child maltreatment) and parentchild relationship quality (PCRQ) are significant and independent predictors of IPV reports. Interestingly, though, both parental violence and PCRQ are more predictive of males’ experiences with IPV than females’. Findings also demonstrate that as jealousy and control, cheating, verbal aggression, arguments, and partner mistrust increase in frequency or severity, so too does the likelihood of both IPV perpetration and victimization. However, contributing to previous research, this dissertation shows the effects of these relationship dynamics on IPV are contingent on individuals’ familial background. In particular, the effects of verbal aggression and cheating on IPV are greater among those individuals who also experience parental violence. Finally, results demonstrate the trajectories of both IPV perpetration and victimization are nonlinear over time, mimicking the general age-crime curve. The shape of these trajectories, however, is further affected by poor PCRQ, which leads to a pronounced increase in the risk of IPV over time. Consequently, analyses show parental violence, parent-child relationship quality, current relationship dynamics, and the stage of the life course under examination all need to be considered in the prediction of IPV. It is thus suggested an integrated theoretical approach, as opposed to a singular theory, may provide the best framework to understand romantic relationship violence. Policy implications for both perpetrators and victims of violence, child welfare agencies, and educational practitioners are discussed.