Online Dating Aggression Linked to Neighborhood Violence Exposure

A University of Michigan research team led by Quyen Epstein-Ngo, a research assistant professor at the U-M Institute for Research on Women and Gender and a fellow with the U-M Injury Center, has begun investigating  risk and promotive factors associated with technology-delivered dating aggression (TDA) and relations between types of violence (physical dating/nondating, community violence, and TDA).  Preliminary baseline data from their ongoing study examining violent experiences among urban youth were recently published in the journal Violence and Gender.


The researchers hypothesized that: (1) risk factors would be positively associated with TDA, (2) promotive factors would be negatively associated with TDA, and (3) TDA would be associated with higher levels of physical dating violence, physical nondating violence, and community violence exposure.

They found that:

  • 48 percent of the youth in the sample reported technology-delivered dating aggression, 44 percent experienced dating violence (either as aggressors or victims), 55 percent reported involvement with physical nondating violence and nearly 96 percent reported community violence exposure.  The patterns of TDA, physical violence, and community violence exposure were similar across gender.
  • TDA was prevalent among high-risk urban youth.
  • There was a strong association between TDA and neighborhood violence exposure—for example, hearing gunshots, seeing drug deals, seeing someone get shot or stabbed.
  • There was a strong association between TDA and physical dating violence as well.
  • Mindfulness ("present-moment awareness of the sensations and stimuli that prompt these behaviors") was associated with less TDA.

"For individuals who would have perpetrated dating aggression regardless of the medium, technology may just be another way to monitor, control and threaten their dating partners," Epstein-Ngo said.  "However, there is also research to support the idea that individuals are more likely to say things online or over email that they wouldn't say if they were face-to-face with someone. So having access to technology may also make it easier to say mean things about others or do things that we wouldn't normally do if we were to look someone in the eye." 
"This study shows that TDA is related to physical dating aggression and may be a precursor to or a symptom of serious physical violence among dating partners. Not everyone who committed TDA also perpetrated physical violence, but nearly everyone who perpetrated physical violence also committed TDA. More research is needed to better understand this association."

Read more:
http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/22368-online-dating-aggression-linked-to-community-violence
http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/vio.2014.0018
http://www.liebertpub.com/overview/violence-and-gender/620/

TeachingwithData.org resources:
Interpersonal Power in Intimate Relationships: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (http://www.teachingwithdata.org/resource/3451)

Frederique Laubepin

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