Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Antonia Abbey


Romantic relationships are crucial to adolescents' development. These relationships fulfill numerous goals such as independence and intimacy (Bouchey & Furman, 2003; Sanderson & Cantor, 1995; Zimmer-Gembeck & Petherick, 2006). Because these relationships determine adolescents' successful attainment of important developmental objectives, negative relationships or experiences may impact later behavior, attitudes, beliefs and expectations (Connolly, Furman, & Konarski, 2000; Crockett & Crouter, 1995; Deal & Wampler, 1986; Furman, 2002; Magdol, Moffitt, Caspi, & Silva, 1998). Physical and sexual violence within adolescent romantic relationships is quite common; studies suggest that up to half of all girls have experienced dating violence (Arriaga & Foshee, 2004; Giordano et al., 2010; Halpern et al., 2001; Jackson, Cram & Seymour, 2000; Munoz-Rivas, Grana, O'Leary & Gonzalez, 2009; Temple & Freeman, 2011; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000; Yan et al., 2010; Young, Grey & Boyd, 2009). Appraisal of an adolescent dating violence incident as it relates to general goals of intimacy attainment may impact working models of romantic relationships, specifically being associated with insecure attachment orientations in adulthood. The present study sought to explore the relationship between commitment to an adolescent relationship in which violence occurred and perceived alterability of that incident on insecure romantic attachment as mediated by appraisals of threat to and control over future intimacy goals immediately after the event. Participants were 209 women who experienced an incident of physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a romantic partner when they were between the ages of 14 and 18. They completed an online survey. Three new measures were created to assess perceived provocation of the partner during the incident, perceived alterability of the incident and appraisal of control over future intimacy immediately after the incident happened. Results showed that threat and control appraisals were related to insecure romantic attachment in adulthood. However, commitment to the relationship and perceptions of alterability of the incident were not related to appraisals. Suggestions for future research and practical implications are discussed.