Individuals who experienced child maltreatment are at heightened risk for involvement in conflictual romantic relationships. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of patterns of child maltreatment on the development of maladaptive romantic relationships in emerging adulthood (EA), as well as to determine whether childhood physical aggression and disinhibition mediate this risk. Utilizing a longitudinal sample of emerging adult participants (N = 398 emerging adults; Mage = 19.67 years) who took part in a summer research camp as children (Mage = 11.27 years), we employed a combination of person-centered and variable-centered methods to test study aims. Significant differences in child behavior and developmental pathways emerged not only between those who experienced maltreatment and those who did not, but also among maltreated individuals with different constellations of maltreatment experiences. Specifically, childhood aggression was a robust mechanism underlying the risk associated with chronic/multi-subtype maltreatment, and the risk associated with neglect only, for involvement in dysfunctional EA romantic relationships. Together, these findings highlight the utility of person-centered methods for conceptualizing maltreatment, identify childhood aggression as a pathway of risk, and the underscore the criticality of prevention and early intervention to interrupt the intergenerational transmission of high conflict and aggression within families.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Early online date||May 8 2021|
|State||Published - Nov 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to the Jacobs Foundation (to Dante Cicchetti), National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01-DA01774 to Fred A. Rogosch and Dante Cicchetti), and National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (P50-HD096698 to Sheree L. Toth and Dante Cicchetti) for their support of this work.
© The Author(s) 2021.
- child maltreatment
- developmental pathways
- romantic relationship conflict