Men's and women's exposure and perpetration of partner violence: an epidemiological study from Sweden

Solveig Lövestad, Gunilla Krantz
BMC Public Health 2012, 12: 945

BACKGROUND: Over the past 30 years, intimate partner violence (IPV) against women and its health consequences has become a well established research area and is recognized worldwide as a significant public health issue. Studies on IPV directed at men are less explored, however recently women's use of IPV and men's victimization is gaining growing attention. Earlier population-based studies performed in Sweden have primarily investigated men's violence against women, while women's use of violence and men's exposure as well as the existence of controlling behaviours have been neglected research areas This explorative study investigated the exposure to and perpetration of intimate partner violence, the use of control behaviours and the associated risk factors among a sample of Swedish men and women.

METHODS: This cross-sectional population-based study included 173 men and 251 women of age 18-65 randomly selected among the Swedish population. A questionnaire based on the revised Conflicts Tactics Scale (CTS2) and the subscale 'isolating control' from the Controlling Behaviour Scale (CBS) was used to collect data on violence exposure and perpetration. Regression analyses were used for risk factor assessment.

RESULTS: More men (11%) than women (8%) reported exposure to physical assault in the past year, while more women reported exposure to sexual coercion. Duration of present relationship ≤ 3 years was identified as a significant risk factor for men's exposure. Young age, lack of social support and being single, constituted risk factors for women's exposure. Surprisingly many men (37%) and women (41%) also reported exposure to controlling behaviours.

CONCLUSIONS: In partner violence research, both men's and women's exposure should be explored however findings need to be interpreted with caution. This first study in a Swedish sample establishes the basis for future investigations on partner violence and coercive control tactics.

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