Longitudinal Moderators of the Relationship Between Excessive Drinking and Intimate Partner Violence in the Early Years of Marriage

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Abstract

Alcohol problems are one of the most well-established risk factors for physical intimate partner violence. Nonetheless, most individuals who drink heavily do so without ever aggressing against a partner. Laboratory research identifies hostility as an important moderator of the association between alcohol and general aggression, and correlational research suggests that stress and coping may also be important moderators of the alcohol-aggression link. Building on this research, the authors examined hostility, coping, and daily hassles as moderators of the associations between excessive drinking and intimate partner violence across the first 4 years of marriage in a sample of 634 newly married couples. Excessive drinking was a significant cross-sectional correlate, but it did not emerge as a unique longitudinal predictor of intimate partner violence perpetration in this sample. However, alcohol was longitudinally predictive of husband violence among hostile men with high levels of avoidance coping. Findings generally supported the moderation model, particularly for men. These findings implicate hostility, coping, and daily hassles, as well as alcohol, as potentially important targets for partner violence prevention strategies for young married couples.

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