Patterns of Dating Violence Moderate the Effect of Child Maltreatment on Suicide Risk among Disadvantaged Minority Female Adolescents with Depressive Symptoms

Tangeria R. Adams, Elizabeth D. Handley, Jennifer M. Warmingham, Jody Todd Manly, Dante Cicchetti, Sheree L. Toth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Childhood maltreatment is associated with increased suicide risk. However, not all maltreated children report self-injurious thoughts and behaviors, highlighting the presence of other risk factors. Notably, adolescent dating violence (ADV) and child maltreatment are highly comorbid, with ADV also linked to suicide risk among adolescents. Current research further suggests that distinct patterns of ADV involvement are differentially related to adolescent mental health. To date, it is unknown whether differences in ADV patterns moderate changes in suicide risk for adolescents with and without a maltreatment history. This study aims to advance the literature by identifying patterns of ADV in a unique sample of adolescents and by determining the differential association between maltreatment and suicidal ideation and non-suicidal self-harming behaviors based on ADV profiles.

Methods: Participants were racially and ethnically diverse low-income non-treatment-seeking adolescent females with elevated depressive symptoms, ages 13-16 (N=198).

Results: Using latent class analysis, we found support for a 3-class model of dating violence: adolescent females without ADV involvement, those in relationships with mutual verbal abuse, and those in romantic relationships with multiple and more severe forms of ADV, such as verbal abuse and physical violence. A series of latent class moderation models indicated that the effect of child maltreatment on suicidal ideation significantly differed based on ADV class membership.

Conclusion: Results highlight the importance of considering different ADV patterns and maltreatment as interactive risk factors for increased self-injurious thoughts and behaviors. Intervention and prevention approaches relevant to maltreated youths are discussed for families and practitioners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-16
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (Grant No. R01MH091070). Special thanks to the families that participated and made this study possible.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Adolescent
  • Dating violence
  • Depression
  • Maltreatment
  • Suicide

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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