Urban young women's experiences of discrimination and community violence and intimate partner violence

Ann Stueve, Lydia O'Donnell
Journal of Urban Health 2008, 85 (3): 386-401
This paper examines the interrelationships between urban young adult women's experiences of discrimination and community violence and their reports of involvement in intimate partner violence (IPV). We explore whether such experiences are independent risk factors for IPV victimization and perpetration, even when accounting for aggressive behaviors and related risk taking, including drinking and sexual initiation, during early adolescence. We use data from the Reach for Health study, in which a sample of 550 urban African American and Latina women was followed from recruitment in economically distressed middle schools into young adulthood, over approximately 7 years. At the last wave, respondents were 19-20 years old; 28% were raising children. More than 40% reported experiencing at least one form of racial/ethnic discrimination sometimes or often over the past year. About 75% heard guns being shot, saw someone being arrested, or witnessed drug deals within this time period; 66% had seen someone beaten up, 26% had seen someone get killed, and 40% knew someone who was killed. Concurrent reports of lifetime IPV were also high: about a third reported being a victim of physical violence; a similar proportion reported perpetration. Results of multivariate regression analyses indicate that discrimination is significantly associated with physical and emotional IPV victimization and perpetration, controlling for socio-demographic characteristics, including ethnic identity formation, and early adolescent risk behaviors. Community violence is correlated with victimization, but the relationship remains significant only for emotional IPV victimization once early behaviors are controlled. Implications for violence prevention are discussed, including the importance of addressing community health, as well as individual patterns of behavior, associated with multiple forms of violence victimization and perpetration.

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