This study sought to understand how experiences of maltreatment occurring prior to 12 years
of age affect adolescent peer and dating relationships. A school-based sample of 15-year-olds
was divided into maltreated (n = 132) and nonmaltreated (n = 227)
subgroups based on self-reported maltreatment. These two groups were then compared on two
theoretically determined dimensions of adjustment (i.e., interpersonal sensitivity/hostility;
personal resources) and self- and teacher-report measures of peer and dating relationships.
Findings supported the hypothesis that maltreated youths significantly differed from
nonmaltreated youths in terms of adjustment problems as well as conflict with dating partners
and close friends. Maltreated youths reported significantly more verbal and physical abuse both
toward and by their dating partners, and were seen by teachers as engaging in more acts of
aggression and harassment toward others. In regression analyses, the significant association
between maltreatment and dating conflict for males was strengthened by including adjustment
dimensions in the equation; for females, adjustment variables mediated the association between
maltreatment and dating conflict. Results are discussed in relation to a maladaptive interpersonal
trajectory for maltreated children, wherein a violent interactional dynamic in adolescent close
relationships may be setting the stage for violence in intimate partnerships.