Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Welfare


Sarah-Jane Dodd

Committee Members

Harriet Goodman

Heidi Jones

Trace Kershaw

Subject Categories

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Maternal and Child Health | Social Work | Women's Health


intimate partner violence, dating violence, adolescent couples, sex risk, teen pregnancy, Actor-Partner Interdependence Model


BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is prevalent and tends to be bilateral in adolescent relationships. Expectant adolescent couples are at even higher risk. Using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM), this study sought to: (1) describe the patterns of physical/sexual and psychological IPV victimization of women and men in expectant adolescent couples from pregnancy through twelve months postpartum; (2) examine the associations between psychosocial and relational factors during pregnancy and postpartum IPV; and (3) investigate the relationship between IPV victimization and later sexual risk across the perinatal period.

METHODS: Data were collected from pregnant adolescents and their male partners (N=296) recruited from health clinics in Connecticut. APIM with distinguishable dyads was utilized, and path analyses were conducted using structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine the predictors and outcomes of IPV across the perinatal period.

RESULTS: (1) Men reported higher rates of IPV than women at every timepoint. Physical/sexual IPV was less prevalent among women during pregnancy and increased considerably postpartum, whereas IPV was most prevalent for men during pregnancy and lower postpartum. Psychological IPV was more prevalent than physical/sexual IPV and was highest during pregnancy. Physical/sexual IPV was stable across the perinatal period for women and men, whereas psychological IPV was stable for women only. (2) Relationship equity during pregnancy was protective against postpartum physical/sexual IPV for women and men. Increased stress and lower social support during pregnancy was associated with postpartum physical/sexual IPV for men. Higher relationship satisfaction during pregnancy was protective against postpartum psychological IPV for women and higher relational power in pregnancy was protective against postpartum psychological IPV for men. Social support during pregnancy was associated with increased postpartum psychological IPV for women. (3) Women’s physical/sexual IPV victimization during pregnancy was related to lower condom use by men six months postpartum. Men’s physical/sexual IPV during pregnancy was related to higher sexually transmitted infections in women six months postpartum. Women’s physical/sexual IPV victimization at six months postpartum and women and men’s psychological IPV at six months were related to having multiple partners across the postpartum period. Women’s psychological IPV at six months postpartum was also related to their partner having less unprotected sex at twelve months postpartum.

CONCLUSIONS: IPV is prevalent and bilateral among expectant adolescent couples across the perinatal period. It is associated with sexual risk for both women and men. Interventions that target psychosocial factors, such as stress and social support, as well as those that target relational issues, such as equity, power, and satisfaction could be delivered to couples in the context of prenatal care to improve physical and mental health and safety for young families.