Studies - Depression / Suicide / Mental Health

The Relationship Between Dating Violence and Psychosocial Problems in a Sample of Adolescent Pregnancy Termination Patients

Violence and Victims, October 2009
DOI: 10.1891/0886-6708.24.5.577 Source: PubMed



The relationship between suicidal thinking and adolescent dating violence has not been previously explored in a sample of adolescent abortion patients.


This paper highlights a study where the relationship between dating violence and severity of suicidal thinking was examined in a sample of 120 young women ages 14-21 seeking to terminate an unintended pregnancy.


The Multidimensional Adolescent Assessment Scale and the Conflict in Adolescent Relationships Scale was used to gather information about psychosocial problems and dating violence so that the relationship between the two problems could be examined, while controlling for the other psychosocial problems.


The results suggest that dating violence was related to severity of suicidal thinking, and that the magnitude of this relationship was moderated by the severity of problems with aggression.


Specifically, as the severity of participant’s general problems with aggression increased, the magnitude of the relationship between dating violence and severity of suicidal thinnking increased. Limitations of the study and implications for practice are discussed.

A compelling case can be made for examining problems such as suicidal behaviors and dating violence in adolescent abortion patients, as literature suggests that young women who experience unintended pregnancy may be at an increased risk of both.

In one longitudinal study, results indicate that young women who reported a previous abortion also reported elevated rates of mental health problems that included suicidal behaviors, depression, and anxiety (Fergusson, Horwood, & Ritter [in refs Ridder?], 2005).

Results from another analysis of this longitudinal data indicate that women who had prior abortions had a 30% greater chance of having a current mental health disorder (Fergusson, Horwood, & Boden, 2008).

In a previous analysis of the current dataset, results indicate an association between dating violence and the depressive symptom cluster (which included suicidal thinking) in the sample of adolescent abortion patients (Ely, Nugent, & Flaherty, 2009).

Further, recent study results suggest that abortion patients have high rates of intimate partner violence, and that violence increases with frequency of abortion (Saftlas et al.,2010).

Evidence also suggests that intimate partner violence in adult women often occurs in the context of pregnancy and that pregnant women who are victims of abuse are more likely to attempt suicide (Chambliss, 2008).

Previous suicide attempts and threats of abuse have been associated with pregnancy in adolescent samples, as well (Freitas, Cais, Stephanello, & Botega, 2008).