Concerns have been raised that relationship education with couples who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) may set off further violence as the couple works through relationship issues. This is one of the first empirical research studies to address whether couples who have experienced IPV prior to enrollment have an elevated risk of violence during a couple education program. Data are from the Family Formation Project, a federally funded Healthy Marriage Initiative working with urban, low-income, unmarried parent couples (N = 90), of whom 44% reported IPV prior to enrollment. We present our IPV screening protocol and illustrate the types of violence found at enrollment. Of note is that no cases of "intimate terrorism"-the most serious controlling violence-were found in this sample. Findings for increased risk for IPV showed no statistically significant elevated risk during the program among those with prior IPV experience. However, sample size and other methodological limitations suggest that the "no elevated risk" finding be interpreted with caution. Relationship education programs working with fragile family couples should be prepared to address violence in their programs.
- Couple and relationship education
- Fragile families
- Intimate partner violence