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Free Content Prevalence of Physical Violence in Intimate Relationships, Part 1: Rates of Male and Female Victimization

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Physical violence in intimate relationships affects men, women, and families worldwide. Although the body of research examining the experiences of male victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) has grown, there have been few attempts to synthesize, compare, and contrast findings regarding the prevalence of male and female victimization. We examined research published in the last 10 years to summarize the current state of knowledge regarding the prevalence of physical IPV victimization in heterosexual relationships. Our specific aims were to (a) describe the prevalence of physical IPV victimization in industrialized, English-speaking nations; and (b) explore study and sample characteristics that affect prevalence. Literature searches undertaken in three databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, and Web of Science) identified 750 articles published between 2000 and 2010. We included 249 articles that reported 543 rates of physical IPV victimization in our review: 158 articles reported 318 rates for women, 6 articles reported 8 rates for men, and 85 articles reported 217 rates for both men and women. Most studies were conducted in the United States (k = 213, 85.5%) and almost half (k = 118, 47.4%) measured IPV using a Conflict Tactics Scalebased approach. Unweighted, pooled prevalence estimates were calculated for female and male victimization overall and by sample type, country, measurement time frame, and measurement approach. Across studies, approximately 1 in 4 women (23.1%) and 1 in 5 men (19.3%) experienced physical violence in an intimate relationship, with an overall pooled prevalence estimate of 22.4%. Analyses revealed considerable variability in rates as a function of methodological issues, indicating the need for standardized measurement of IPV.

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Keywords: INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE; LITERATURE REVIEW; PHYSICAL ASSAULT; PREVALENCE; VICTIMIZATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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  • Partner Abuse, a peer-reviewed journal, recognizes that physical and emotional abuse among dating, cohabitating and married partners is as a major public health and social problem in North America and around the world. Its purpose is to advance knowledge, practice and policies through a commitment to rigorous, objective research and evidence-based solutions. In addition to original research papers and literature reviews, the journal welcomes viewpoints and commentaries on the topic of partner abuse, as well as clinical case studies, book reviews and letters to the editor.
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