Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. Clinical Psychology




College of Science & Mathematics


Meredith Jones, Ph.D. & D.J. Angelone, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Steven Brunwasser, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Jonathan Lassiter, Ph.D.


Teenage mothers; Victims of dating violence


Clinical Psychology


Young mothers are an understudied group at high-risk for dating violence (DV) victimization and perpetration. Psychological distress, such as depression, increases young mothers' risk for DV (Thomas et al., 2019). In turn, depressive symptomology is associated with difficulties in interpersonal competence (Jones et al., 2019), which may increase DV risk (Bonache et al., 2017). In addition, young mothers may have few chances to learn the interpersonal skills associated with healthy adult romantic relationships due to a mismatch in developmental level and parenting status (Herrman et al., 2019; Moore et al., 2007). Using interpersonal stress generation theory (Hammen, 1991, 2006), we hypothesized that young mothers (N = 238) with elevated depressive symptomology would report higher rates of DV victimization and perpetration, and that this association would be mediated by self-reported interpersonal competence. We conducted a mediation analysis to examine the average causal mediation and average direct effects. Results demonstrated that interpersonal competency did not mediate the relationship between depressive symptomatology and DV victimization and perpetration. Direct effects were present between depressive symptomatology and DV victimization and perpetration. Although interpersonal competency was not a mediator, both depressive symptomatology and interpersonal competency were independently related to DV. Taken together, these data may inform future DV prevention-interventions for young mothers.