Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Timmons Fritz, Patti


Coercive Control, Couples, Dating, Intimate Partner Violence, Violence




Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been suggested as a consequence of coercive control (CC), a pattern of demands placed on a romantic partner, threats about what will occur if the demands are not met (e.g., IPV), and surveillance to ensure that demands have been met (Dutton & Goodman, 2005). This hypothesis has yet to be examined among dating couples, and little is known about how CC and physical violence arise in dating relationships. The current study had three main objectives: (a) to determine the way in which CC and IPV change over time in newly established dating relationships, (b) to examine the influence of CC and physical violence on each other, and (c) to obtain qualitative information on individuals’ own experiences with and beliefs about CC. An online survey about CC and physical violence in participants’ own relationships was completed at three two-month intervals (baseline and 2- and 4-month follow-ups) by 165 women who had been dating their romantic partners for two months or less. On average, CC occurred at a rate significantly different from zero at the first time point, whereas physical violence did not, providing some support for CC as a precursor to violence. As well, CC decreased over time, suggesting that once a culture of CC had been established, tactics of CC may not need to be used as frequently. Despite many participants describing CC and intimate partner violence (IPV) as part of the same phenomenon, measurement of each of the constructs at a given time point did not significantly predict subsequent occurrences of the other construct. A common theme that emerged among participants’ accounts of CC and IPV in their own relationship was the role of jealousy as a precursor to both IPV and CC. This study was one of the first to examine participants’ experiences of relationship processes (such as CC and IPV) at the very beginning of a dating relationship. Results suggest that the relation between CC and IPV is quite complex, and further studies that include other related variables in the model, such as jealousy and trust, are recommended.