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The Relationship Between Dating Violence and Bystander Behavior: An Initial Investigation

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Preliminary research has demonstrated the utility of bystander interventions in reducing sexual assault (Coker et al., 2011; Moynihan & Banyard, 2008), and initial research has begun extending this type of intervention to dating violence broadly (i.e., physical and psychological aggression). However, there are many unexplored factors that may increase or decrease the likelihood that individuals will engage in bystander behavior. One such factor is previous experiences with dating violence and sexual assault. Thus, this study examined prior dating violence and sexual assault experiences and endorsement of bystander behaviors in a large sample of college students (N = 2,430). We hypothesized that individuals with a history of dating and sexual assault victimization would be more likely to report engaging in bystander behaviors relative to nonvictims. The relationship between prior dating violence perpetration on bystander behavior was also explored. Results demonstrated that individuals with physical and sexual, but not psychological, victimization histories reported more frequent bystander behavior. Furthermore, perpetrators of physical violence were more likely than nonperpetrators to report bystander behavior, particularly among females. Findings provide preliminary evidence that prior experiences with dating violence and sexual assault may impact bystander behavior. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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