Experiences in the family and peer group play important roles in the development of interpersonal competencies across the childhood and adolescent years. Toward the end of adolescence, stable and supportive romantic relationships increasingly serve adaptive functions in promoting individual well-being and in fostering a sense of connection and security to others (Collins, Hennighausen, Schmit, & Sroufe, 1997; Conger, Cui, Bryant, & Elder, 2000; Furman, 1999). Romantic relationships marked by conflict and violence pose risks for current and longer-term adjustment and can compromise the health and well-being of the partner to whom the violence is directed (Capaldi & Owen, 2001). Romantic relationships in which one or both partners are wary, jealous, and insecure can stifle growth and fuel disagreements and disharmony (Holtzworth-Munroe, Meehan, Herron, Rehman, & Stuart, 2000).
Relationship insecurity and relationship violence covary to some degree (Holtzworth-Munroe & Stewart, 1994), suggesting that they may be linked in the development of romantic relationship dysfunction. Within the marital violence literature, insecurity has been proposed as a key pathway through which relationship violence develops. Consistent with this perspective, Holtzworth-Munroe et al. (2000), in their examination of types of male batterers, found that one type of batterer could be characterized by insecurity and a tendency to confine violence to an intimate relationship. Holtzworth-Munroe et al. (2000) speculate that insecurity plays an etiological role in the development of partner violence. If this were the case, then insecurity might serve as a mediating link between social experience (e.g., of rejection and intimidation) and subsequent violence.