Although relationship violence has been declining since the early 1990s, data indicates that young adults are at greatest risk for getting caught up in different types of relationship violence.

A new study from Child Trends examined relationship violence as reported by both partners in each relationship. Based on data collected from young adult couples (ages 18-28) in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in United States, the study specifically analyzed the frequency and severity of relationship violence across all couples, as well as levels of relationship violence among married, cohabiting, and dating couples.

The study defined “relationship violence” as any of the following: threats of violence, pushing, shoving, or throwing something that could inflict harm; slapping, hitting, or kicking; or inflicting an injury, such as a sprain, bruise, or cut, and found out that 4 in 10 young adults reported some type of physical relationship violence.

  • Cohabiting couples report the highest levels of relationship violence, and dating couples report the lowest.
  • For married and dating couples, the longer a relationship lasts, the more likely it is that relationship violence in the previous year will be reported.
  • Having children in the household is associated with increased reports of violence for married and dating couples.
  • The education and racial/ethnic makeup of couples appears to have a bearing on relationship violence, for example married couples in which the partners were of different racial or ethnic backgrounds were more likely to report relationship violence.
  • Both men and women experience relationship violence but women tend to report more often. Other national data sources indicate that experiencing relationship violence may be more common among men than among women but it is highly underreported.

The study highlights the need to identify better survey methods to assess relationship violence and to focus future research and prevention on high-risk young adult couples with lower levels of education, cohabiting couples, couples with children in the household, and young adult married couples in which partners differ by race or ethnicity.



Article Courtesy BC Council for Families
by Pilar Onatra
Program Coordinator


Young Parent Outreach is a dynamic resource program providing services and support to young pregnant women, young moms and dads, and their children in the Greater Victoria area.

These services – provided by The Cridge Centre for the Family – are designed to give young pregnant women and young moms and dads the help and support network they need to have healthy babies and to be effective, successful parents. Whether it’s housing, income assistance, food back or dealing with child custody or substance abuse, The Cridge Young Parent Outreach program can help.