Risky Lifestyles and Dating Violence: A Theoretical Test of Violent Victimization

Angela Gover, University of South Carolina

Research consistently indicates that there are numerous risk factors associated with dating violence. Few studies, however, have developed theoretical explanations for the prevalence of dating victimization. In this study victimization theories were tested that suggest risk-taking behaviors (i.e., drug abuse, alcohol abuse, driving under the influence, and sexual promiscuity) mediate the effects of social ties and emotional states on the likelihood of violent victimization in adolescent dating relationships. This model was tested using a representative sample of public high school students in South Carolina. The results confirm theoretical predictions and indicate the effects of social ties on dating victimization occur indirectly, through their antecedent influence on risk taking. These findings, therefore, lend support for a lifestyles theory explanation of violent victimization in adolescent dating relationships. The implications of this research for theory and social policy are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006