Relationship Contexts as Sources of Socialization: An Exploration of Intimate Partner Violence Experiences of Economically Disadvantaged African American Adolescents

Landor, Antoinette
Hurt, Tera
Futris, Ted
Barton, Allen
McElroy, Stacey
Sheats, Kameron
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Intimate partner violence (IPV) among African Americans is a serious public health concern. Research suggest that African Americans adolescents, particularly those from economically disadvantaged communities, are at heightened risk for experiencing and perpetrating dating violence compared to youth from other racial and ethnic groups. In the present study, we examined different relationship contexts that are sources of IPV socialization. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 economically disadvantaged African American adolescents. Content analysis yielded five relationship contexts through which the participants witnessed, experienced, and perpetrated IPV: (a) adolescents’ own dating relationships (64%), (b) siblings and extended family members (e.g., cousins, aunts, uncles) (59%), (c) parent-partners (27%), (d) friends (23%), and (e) neighbors (18%). Adolescents also frequently described IPV in their own dating relationships and in parent-partner relationships as mutual. Moreover, they appeared to minimize the experience of IPV in their own relationships. Efforts to reduce rates of IPV among economically disadvantaged African American adolescents should consider these relational contexts through which adolescents are socialized with regards to IPV and adolescents’ beliefs about mutual violence in relationships. Results highlight the importance of culturally relevant prevention and intervention programs that consider these relationship contexts.


This is a manuscript of an article Journal of Child and Family Studies, January 2017, 1-11, The final publication is available at Springer via s10826-016-0650-z. Posted with permission..

Intimate partner violence, adolescent dating violence, teen dating violence, relationships, African Americans adolescents, qualitative