The current study investigates the relationship between intimate partner violence (IPV), childhood trauma, trait anxiety, depression, and anxious attachment in college students. Ninety-three male and 161 female undergraduate students at Fairfield University, ranging in age from 17 to 23, with a mean age of 18.8 years, participated. Participants completed five self-report inventories: The Conflict in Adolescent Dating Relationships Inventory (CADRI), the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Adult Attachment Scale (AAS). IPV perpetration in college dating relationships was related to childhood emotional and physical abuse, emotional and physical neglect, and trait anxiety. IPV victimization in college dating relationships was related to childhood emotional and physical abuse, childhood emotional and physical neglect, and an anxious attachment style. IPV perpetration and victimization were also significantly correlated with one another. Subscale analyses suggest that childhood emotional abuse was related to being both the perpetrator and victim of verbal or emotional abuse in dating relationships. Childhood physical abuse, physical neglect, and emotional abuse were related to both perpetration and victimization of physical IPV. Threatening behavior perpetration in dating relationships was related to childhood emotional abuse, emotional neglect, physical abuse, and physical neglect; however, being the victim of threatening behavior was only related to childhood emotional abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect, not childhood physical abuse. These results support the relationship between childhood trauma and dating violence in college students. They also support a role for anxiety in IPV, although trait anxiety was related to perpetration and an anxious attachment style was correlated with IPV victimization. In addition, they suggest that different experiences of childhood trauma may relate to different aspects of IPV in college dating relationships.
Keywords: attachment; child abuse; dating violence.