The high level of crime in South Africa affects many adolescents. Experience of community interpersonal violence affects the social, emotional and cognitive functioning of adolescents and could have an impact on their personality development. The aim of the study was to explore possible differences in the expression of personality between adolescents exposed to community interpersonal violence and those not exposed to such violence. The sample
comprised 183 grade 12 learners from a secondary school in a middle class community in Gauteng. Participants were divided into two groups: adolescents who reported exposure to community interpersonal violence (n = 93) and those who did not report exposure to such violence (n = 90). Both groups completed the 16 Personality Factor and Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scales. Differences between the groups were explored using a one-way between groups multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and t-tests for independent groups. Results indicated statistically significant differences between the two groups on Factor G (rule consciousness), Factor I (emotional sensitivity) and Factor Q4 (anxiety). Adolescents exposed to interpersonal violence reported higher levels of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms than the control group. The group that experienced PTSD symptoms differed more in terms of personality functioning (Factor I and Q4). Violence-exposed adolescents experienced more emotional volatility, difficulty to regulate emotions, anxiety and sensitivity to environmental stressors than those not exposed to such violence. Although causality cannot be assumed, it is possible that exposure to community interpersonal violence, which could result in PTSD symptoms, has implications for the personality development of adolescents. Interventions for adolescents exposed to interpersonal violence are recommended to prevent the development of PTSD symptoms.