Abstract: An Examination of Pathways from Exposure to Violence to the Perpetration of Dating Violence: The Roles of Attitudes Towards Violence and Alcohol Use (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

An Examination of Pathways from Exposure to Violence to the Perpetration of Dating Violence: The Roles of Attitudes Towards Violence and Alcohol Use

Friday, January 18, 2019: 9:00 AM
Union Square 14 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Jeongsuk Kim, MSW, Doctoral student, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Kristen D. Seay, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina
Naomi Farber, PhD, Associate Professor, University of South Carolina
Background/Purpose: Research indicates that children exposed to violence are at a greater risk for engaging in violent behavior as adults. However, how the exposure to violence during childhood leads to the perpetration of dating violence remains unclear. The current study examined whether attitudes towards violence and alcohol use mediate the relationship from exposure to violence to dating violence perpetration. Social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1989) and general strain theory (Agnew, 1992) inform the theoretical framework for this study. The social cognitive theory emphasizes that repeated observation of violent models leads children to view violence as normative or acceptable in relationships, which in turn contributes to the likelihood of violent behavior (Bandura, 1989). Using this perspective, the impact of early exposure to violence and dating violence in young adulthood can be assessed by measuring attitudes toward violence. The general strain theory guides our understanding of the ways in which people who are exposed to violence may manage their stress through alcohol use, which may, in turn, lead them to engage in delinquent or violent acts.

Methods: This study utilized data from 4,533 U.S. college students in the IDVS (International Dating Violence Study). The data were collected in 2006 using a purposive sampling method aimed to assess dating violence perpetration and victimization. After excluding the cases with missing values, 4,162 students were selected for our analysis. As a dependent variable, twelve items from the revised Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS2) were used to assess for self-report of dating violence perpetration. An independent variable included exposure to violence, which consisted of six items of childhood witness of violence and childhood physical abuse. Attitude of violence consisted of 10 items from Personal and Relationship Profile (PRP) and alcohol use consisting of four questions from the Substance Abuse scale of the PRP were included as mediating variables. Data were analyzed with M-plus 7 using structural equation modeling (SEM).

Results: We found that an examination of the model’s RMSEA (0.047), CFI (0.967), TLI (0.955), and SRMR (0.046) shows that the model is a good fit to the data. The model explained 15% of the variance in dating violence. As hypothesized, exposure to violence was significantly related to attitudes towards violence, alcohol use, and dating violence. Attitudes toward violence and alcohol use were directly related to dating violence. The adjoining paths from exposure to violence, through attitudes toward violence and alcohol use, to dating violence were significant, indicating that attitudes toward violence and alcohol use mediated some of the influence of exposure to violence on dating violence.

Conclusions and Implications: Expanded knowledge of what factors lead to dating violence in a college setting are critical for determining what interventions would better increase the security and wellbeing of the young adults who attend university with an expectation of safety. Implications for dating violence prevention focused on attitude toward violence and alcohol use are discussed.