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Abstract: Adolescence is the crux of sexuality and a period of development marked by the establishment of intimate relationships with the opposite sex. The occurrences of abusive dating behaviours at this stage of development are on the rise. Although little attention has been placed on this, these behaviours could serve as risk factors for worse maladaptive behaviours later in life and even the manifestation of psychological distress which is not limited only to the victims but as well, the perpetrators. Hence, this study sought to identify the role of self-esteem, empathy, family background and peer influence in predicting the occurrence of abusive dating behaviour. A cross-sectional survey design was employed in the collection of data from a sample of 219 undergraduates of University of Ibadan, consisting of 156 females and 63 males. A self-administered structured questionnaire was used to measure patterns of abusive dating behaviour, self-esteem, empathy and resistance to peer influence while family background was measured as part of the demographic characteristics. Three hypotheses were tested using T-test and multiple regression analytical tools. Results reveal that self-esteem, empathy and peer influence had significant joint influence on abusive dating behaviour (F (3,206) = 8.796, p .05; R2 = .114). Self-esteem and empathy had significant independent influence on abusive dating behaviour (β = -.306, p .05) and (β = .156, p .05) respectively while peer influence had no significant independent influence on abusive dating behaviour (β = -.020, p >.05). This infers that an undergraduates self and empathy are major concerns for engaging in abusive dating, peer influence could only complement the influence of these two factors. It was also found that students from monogamous homes and polygamous homes did not differ in their abusive dating behaviour (t (213) = .519, p>.05) and that gender differences do not exist in abusive dating behaviour (t (213) = .500, p>.05). This also infers that neither experiences from family backgrounds nor undergraduates gender determine abusive dating. It was therefore recommended that clinical psychologists and counsellors help adolescents who have been involved in abusive relationships, either as perpetrators or victims to build their self-esteem and empathic ability to prevent future reoccurrence.

JEL Classifications: A13, D71

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