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Intimate Partner Violence Risk Among Victims Of Youth Violence: Are Early Unions Bad, Beneficial, Or Benign?

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Published online on


Youth violent victimization (YVV) is a risk factor for precocious exits from adolescence via early coresidential union formation. It remains unclear, however, whether these early unions 1) are associated with intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization, 2) interrupt victim continuity or victim–offender overlap through protective and prosocial bonds, or 3) are inconsequential. By using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 11,928; 18–34 years of age), we examine competing hypotheses for the effect of early union timing among victims of youth violence (n = 2,479)—differentiating across victimization only, perpetration only, and mutually combative relationships and considering variation by gender. The results from multinomial logistic regression models indicate that YVV increases the risk of IPV victimization in first unions, regardless of union timing; the null effect of timing indicates that delaying union formation would not reduce youth victims’ increased risk of continued victimization. Gender‐stratified analyses reveal that earlier unions can protect women against IPV perpetration, but this is partly the result of an increased risk of IPV victimization. The findings suggest that YVV has significant transformative consequences, leading to subsequent victimization by coresidential partners, and this association might be exacerbated among female victims who form early unions. We conclude by discussing directions for future research.