Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Rosalie Corona


Adolescent dating violence is a prevalent and disconcerting reality for many adolescents. Communication with others (e.g., parents, older siblings, friends) about dating violence may buffer some negative outcomes associated with experiencing dating violence. Although researchers are attending more to this public health problem, what we know about the messages that adolescents receive about dating violence is limited, especially for Latina teens. To address this gap in the literature, 18 Latina adolescents (14-17 years) and their mothers participated in semi-structured interviews to explore their beliefs about what dating violence means to them, messages that are shared about dating violence with mothers and friends, adolescents’ help seeking preferences and behaviors, and reasons for and against talking with parents about problems in dating relationships. Interviews were transcribed and coded for emergent themes. Participants described many examples of problems in dating relationships including some traditional forms of dating violence (e.g., physical harm) and some advancing forms of dating abuse (e.g., aggression through social media). Messages that Latina adolescents receive from parents and friends include advice to “try to work it out or get out of the relationship” and “talk to someone.” Barriers to seeking help from parents and others included “worry about parent’s response” and “lack of closeness or trust.” Themes of supports to seeking help from parents and others included having a “close and trusting relationship” and having had “an established pattern of communication.” Latina adolescents also suggested they may prefer to seek help for problems in dating situations from friends and older siblings. Results suggest that Latina adolescents and their mothers may be knowledgeable about problems in dating situations. However, the messages that Latina adolescents receive differs by who is giving the message and Latina teens may hesitate talking to their parents about problems in dating if they fear negative parental reactions or they do not sense that parents can effectively facilitate the conversations. Given that many victims of dating violence do not tend to disclose their dating problems or seek help, these results highlight the importance of educating parents on how to promote open and effective communication. Results also highlight the importance of informing peers and siblings on how to respond when their friends/siblings experience dating problems. Finally, results suggest implications for primary prevention programs guided by support for culturally tailored interventions.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2013