A Longitudinal Examination of the Role of Intimate Partner Violence, Depression and Substance Use Problems in Young Adult Vocational Outcomes
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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health concern in the United States and around the world, with adolescents and emerging and young adults most at-risk for IPV. Early experiences of IPV have far-reaching, immediate negative effects on individual health and developmental outcomes. There is a small body of research on the impact of IPV on young adults’ vocational outcomes and the links between these two factors. This study utilized prospective, longitudinal data collected nationally from 1,386 individuals to examine how IPV experiences during adolescence impact IPV experiences, depression, and substance use problems during emerging adulthood and vocational outcomes during young adulthood. It was hypothesized that (a) IPV victimization during adolescence will be associated with vocational outcomes during young adulthood; (b) IPV experiences, depression and substance use problems during emerging adulthood would mediate the relationship between IPV victimization during adolescence and vocational outcomes during young adulthood; (c) there would be a positive association between depression and substance use problems during emerging adulthood; and (d) there would be a positive association between educational attainment and employment status during young adulthood. Path analyses were performed using a Structural Equation Modeling framework to test study hypotheses. Study findings revealed that adolescent IPV victimization significantly predicted emerging adult IPV victimization, reciprocal IPV and depression, and young adult educational attainment. Emerging adult depression and reciprocal IPV mediated adolescent IPV victimization and young adult vocational outcomes. Depression and substance use problems during emerging adulthood and educational attainment and employment status during young adulthood were significantly associated. The present study provides support for the developmental cascading risks of IPV on individuals’ development over time. This study adds to the dearth of empirical research showing a relationship between early IPV experiences and vocational development for young adult men and women and the importance of assessing for different types of IPV experiences and the differential impact on mental health and vocational outcomes, for women and men, across time. These findings support the importance of identifying key mediating factors and time points that may be targeted to interrupt the accumulation of IPV risk from adolescence into young adulthood.