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Partner's behaviour linked to sexual violence

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine,
April 2011

Partner's behaviour linked to sexual violence

Having a partner who shows controlling behaviour raises the risk of suffering physical and sexual relationship violence. However, young women experiencing such behaviour are hesitant to answer questions about relationship violence.

High rates of relationship violence have been reported among adolescents and young adults. To examine the correlation between controlling behaviour and relationship violence, researchers conducted an anonymous computer-assisted audio interview with female patients in a reproductive health centre. A total of 603 American women between the ages of 15 and 24 years participated.

In the population examined, 411 women (68 per cent) reported experiencing one or more episodes of controlling behaviour - 38 per cent reported experiencing only controlling behaviour; 11 per cent and 10 per cent reported controlling behaviour plus physical or sexual victimization respectively; and almost 9 per cent reported all forms of relationship violence.

The types of controlling behaviour reported by the women included: being expected to ask a partner's permission before seeking health care (4 percent); having contact with their family restricted (6 percent); being ignored or treated indifferently by a partner (25 percent); and having a partner try to prevent them from seeing friends (26 percent).

Women were more likely to experience a higher number of episodes of controlling behaviour if they were aged 15 to 18 years, Hispanic, had been exposed to domestic violence during childhood, had been pregnant at least once, had suffered recent physical or sexual violence, and felt uncomfortable asking a male partner to use a condom.

These findings show that improving partner communications skills could help to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS) in youth with a history of sexual violence.

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