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Intimate Partner Violence In Young Adulthood: Narratives Of Persistence And Desistance

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Published online on


Prior research on patterns of intimate partner violence (IPV) has documented changes over time, but few studies have focused directly on IPV desistance processes. This analysis identifies unique features of IPV, providing a rationale for the focus on this form of behavior cessation. We develop a life‐course perspective on social learning as a conceptual framework and draw on qualitative interviews (n = 89) elicited from a sample of young adults who participated in a larger longitudinal study (Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study). The respondents’ backgrounds reflected a range of persistence and desistance from IPV perpetration. Our analyses revealed that relationship‐based motivations and changes were central features of the narratives of successful desisters, whether articulated as a stand‐alone theme or in tandem with other potential “hooks” for change. The analysis provides a counterpoint to individualistic views of desistance processes, highlighting ways in which social experiences foster attitude shifts and associated behavioral changes that respondents tied to this type of behavior change. The analyses of persisters and those for whom change seemed to be a work in progress provide points of contrast and highlight barriers that limit a respondent's desistance potential. We describe implications for theories of desistance as well as for IPV prevention and intervention efforts.