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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • violent victimization;
  • life course;
  • cohabitation;
  • marriage

This article bridges scholarship in criminology and family sociology by extending arguments about “precocious exits” from adolescence to consider early union formation as a salient outcome of violent victimization for youths. Research indicates that early union formation is associated with several negative outcomes; yet the absence of attention to union formation as a consequence of violent victimization is noteworthy. We address this gap by drawing on life course theory and data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to examine the effect of violent victimization (“street” violence) on the timing of first coresidential union formation—differentiating between marriage and cohabitation—in young adulthood. Estimates from Cox proportional hazard models show that adolescent victims of street violence experience higher rates of first union formation, especially marriage, early in the transition to adulthood; however, this effect declines with age, as such unions become more normative. Importantly, the effect of violent victimization on first union timing is robust to controls for nonviolent delinquency, substance abuse, and violent perpetration. We conclude by discussing directions for future research on the association between violent victimization and coresidential unions with an eye toward the implications of such early union formation for desistance.