JOURNAL ARTICLE

Intimate partner sexual aggression against Chinese women: a mixed methods study

Agnes Tiwari, Denise Shuk Ting Cheung, Ko Ling Chan, Daniel Yee Tak Fong, Elsie Chau Wai Yan, Gloria Ling Lee Lam, Debbie Hoi Ming Tang
BMC Women's Health 2014 May 25, 14: 70
24886374

BACKGROUND: Although intimate partner sexual aggression has been shown to be associated with adverse mental health outcomes, there is scant information about sexual aggression in Chinese intimate relationships in general and about its mental health impact in particular. This article aimed to investigate sexual aggression in Chinese intimate relationships, including the use of force or threat of force and non-physical coercive tactics in unwanted sex.

METHODS: The quantitative and qualitative data used in this paper were drawn from a prospective cohort study conducted in Hong Kong between September 2010 and September 2012. A total of 745 Chinese women aged 18 or older who had been in an intimate relationship in the preceding 12 months were recruited from sites in all districts of Hong Kong. Multiple logistic regression analysis, ordinary linear regression, and t-tests were used in quantitative analysis. Directed content analysis was used to analyze the transcripts of 59 women who revealed experiences of intimate partner sexual aggression in individual in-depth interviews.

RESULTS: Of the 745 Chinese women in the study, 348 (46.7%) had experienced intimate partner physical violence in the past year, and 179 (24%) had experienced intimate partner physical violence and sexual aggression in the past year. Intimate partner sexual aggression significantly predicted PTSD and depressive symptoms after controlling for intimate partner physical violence. Among the 179 women reporting intimate partner physical violence and sexual coercion in the past year, 75 indicated that their partners used force or threat of force to make them have sex, and 104 of them reported that they gave in to sex because of non-physical coercive tactics used by their partners. Qualitative data revealed a variety of non-physical coercive tactics with different degrees of subtlety used to coerce women into unwanted sex with their partners. Chinese women experiencing physically forced sex had significantly more depressive symptoms and PTSD symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that sexual aggression in Chinese intimate relationships has specific mental health consequences over and above those associated with physical violence. Assessment of partner violence in Chinese relationships should include screening for sexual aggression in order to provide appropriate interventions.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials gov NCT01206192.

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