Common couple violence as a consequence of childhood economic hardship
Sutton, Tara Elizabeth
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Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a major concerns for researchers and the public alike and costs Americans $5.8 billion every year in services and job productivity. Both victimization and perpetration confer risk for various negative outcomes including mental illness, substance use, and compromised physical well-being. Moreover, partner aggression peaks during young adult, so understanding the causes of IPV among this age group is important. Existing research has focused on individual (i.e. alcohol use) and familial (i.e. interparental conflict) risks for intimate partner aggression, but the broader social context is less often the focus. Thus. the purpose of this study is to examine the long-term impact of childhood economic pressure on young adulthood common couple violence (CCV) via negative family of origin experiences.. The Family Stress Model suggests that childhood economic pressure compromises familial relationships, leading to depression, caregiver conflict, and ineffective parenting practices. These family experiences, in turn, are likely to lead to an increased risk of IPV in adulthood. The study utilized data from a sample of 223 African-American families and from a sample of 306 rural, Caucasian families. Structural equation modeling was used for analyses, and indirect effects were estimated using bias-corrected bootstrapping. Results mainly support the propositions of the FSM in each sample, but there were a few unexpected paths. Further, in both samples, hostile and ineffective parenting significantly predicted common couple violence in young adulthood and mediated the association between caregiver conflict and common couple violence. Further, negative relational schemas acted as a partial link between parenting and partner aggression among African American and Caucasian young adults. The final models explain 18.8% of the variance in the outcome for the FACHS sample and 25.7% of the variance in the outcome for the IYFP sample. The findings of this study point to the importance of economic interventions with families who are struggling financially (i.e. subsidized housing, increased minimum wage) as well as the need for mental health services and relationship education programming for economically-strapped families and young adults.