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The Perceived Influence of Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence on Youth’s Significant Relationships: A Temporal Analysis

Geneviève Lessard, Chantal Bourassa, Valérie Roy, Annie Dumont, Sophie M. Bisson, Pamela Alvarez-Lizotte

Research Framework: This article examines the evolution of relationships identified as significant by young adults who were exposed to intimate partner violence in childhood or adolescence.

Objectives: The study attempted to identify the people who had an important influence on the young people’s life course, to examine how the relationships with these significant people evolved, and to determine the extent to which exposure to intimate partner violence influenced these relationships.

Methodology: This is a qualitative study based on life course theory. Semi-structured interviews, accompanied by a life-course calendar, were conducted with 45 persons from 18 to 25 years old.

Results: Exposure to intimate partner violence had a greater impact on the relationships with the parents, although in different ways which depended on whether it was the parent who perpetrated or who was subjected to the violence. The relationships with other significant people (friends, siblings, extended family, etc.) tended to be more stable over time and were generally supportive and fluctuated less in the presence of intimate partner violence. Dating relationships sometimes led to a revictimization but also represented occasions to rebuild healthier and more equal relationships.

Conclusions: This study contributes to our understanding of the significant relationships of young people who have been exposed to intimate partner violence. The temporal analysis perspective adopted here helped to identify some of the shortcomings in previous studies and to propose avenues for future research.

Contribution: This study suggests certain actions to improve aid provided for youths and those close to them. The aim is to take advantage of the relationships that they consider significant in their various life trajectories, namely family, friends, intimate partner, school, and work.