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Exploring Adolescent Dating Violence in Rural Communities: A Mixed Methods Study

Sarah A Taylor, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Adolescent dating violence (ADV) occurs nearly twice as often among rural adolescents than it does among non-rural adolescents. Research has suggested several reasons for this population difference. First, people in the rural context oftentimes have traditional gender role attitudes towards male dominance over women, which can be displayed in the form of relationship violence. People in the rural context also tend to have less access to friends and resources (e.g., social services), which can further perpetuate violence by limiting a victim’s opportunity to seek help. In addition, rural individuals tend to have a reduced sense of anonymity, and thus, victims may be reluctant to seek help for fear that their community will criticize them. Research has examined these rural sociocultural aspects in regards to adult relationship violence, but research on rural ADV has yet to examine these factors. This study uses a concurrent nested mixed methods design where the qualitative phase is embedded in the predominant quantitative phase. The purpose of this study is to understand how aspects of the rural context are associated with attitudes toward and experiences of ADV. A convenience sample of 208 rural Nebraska adolescents (ages 13–19) was used to answer a survey regarding rural sociocultural aspects and ADV. Quantitative research questions were addressed with structural equation modeling and moderation analyses. The qualitative research question was addressed using content analysis. Findings reveal that hostile sexist gender role attitudes significantly predict ADV victimization. Benevolent sexist and hostile sexist attitudes are associated with favorable attitudes towards ADV. However, results from structural equation modeling did not provide support for the isolation and anonymity hypotheses. Moreover, participants’ parents impact their relationships in a variety of ways. Adolescents learn how individuals should act in relationships through their parents, parents provide social support for relationships to many adolescents, and many adolescents report that their parents are completely aware of their dating behaviors. Nonetheless, many parents reinforced traditional gender roles, provided no social support, and were not aware of their child’s relationships. These findings have implications for prevention, intervention, and policy regarding relationship education efforts.

Subject Area

Social research|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Taylor, Sarah A, "Exploring Adolescent Dating Violence in Rural Communities: A Mixed Methods Study" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10846188.