Cut to the Quick: The Consequences of Youth Violent Victimization for the Timing of Dating Debut and First Union Formation

Tara D. Warner, David F. Warner, Danielle C. Kuhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Concentrated in adolescence, violent victimization is developmentally disruptive. It undermines physical, mental, and socioemotional well-being and compromises youths’ transitions into and progression through key life course tasks. Youth violent victimization (YVV) has been linked to precocious exits from adolescence and premature entries into adulthood. This includes early entry into coresidential romantic unions, which is but one stage of a relationship sequence generally beginning via dating debut. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) and Cox regression, we examine the effects of YVV on the timing of dating debut and progression to first coresidential unions during adolescence and the transition to adulthood. We pay particular attention to how these effects may be structured by age and gender. Overall, we find that victims begin dating sooner and progress more quickly from dating to first unions than do non-victims. However, youths victimized in early adolescence withdraw from dating and union formation, whereas late adolescent victims appear to overinvest in relationships—at least temporarily—displaying accelerated entry into dating and rapid progression to first unions. We conclude by discussing the implication of these age-graded patterns for intervention efforts and youth well-being more broadly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1241-1271
Number of pages31
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017



  • adolescence
  • life course
  • romantic relationships
  • victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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