Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Gender Differences in the Relationship between Intimate Partner Violence Victimization and the Perception of Dating Situations among College Students

Academic journal article Violence and Victims

Gender Differences in the Relationship between Intimate Partner Violence Victimization and the Perception of Dating Situations among College Students

Article excerpt

Although the prevalence and severity of dating violence among college students is well known, the relationship between past victimization and perceptions of future dating situations has not been examined. Using both qualitative and quantitative research methods, this study investigated gender differences in the relationship between intimate partner violence victimization and the perceptions of dating situations. The study found that the more psychological, physical, or sexual violence that was experienced by females, the more likely they perceived dating situations as inappropriate. Males, on the other hand, were more likely to report aggressive behaviors in dating situations only if victimized by sexual violence. Implications for professionals working with college students or community prevention programs are discussed.

Keywords: partner violence; perceptions; gender differences; dating

In the United States, studies have found lifetime prevalence rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) among adults ranging between 20% and 68% (American College Health Association, 2004; Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005; Rickert & Weinmann, 1998). The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) found that two out of three women who reported being a victim of physical, psychological, and/or sexual violence before the age of 18 were victimized as an adult by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, boyfriend, or date (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). The NVAWS found that half of all women reported being raped by the same intimate partner two to nine times (15% of women are over 10 incidents). This finding of revictimization by the NVAWS is supported by Smith, White, and Holland's (2003) longitudinal study that found women who were physically assaulted as adolescents by an intimate partner were at greater risk of being revictimized during their college years. Adolescent dating violence has been found to be common, as seen in Jezl, Molidor, and White's (1996) study that found that, among high school students, 96% had experienced psychological abuse, 59% had been a victim of physical violence, and 15% experienced sexual violence in dating relationships. The outcome of IPV for women in early adulthood can be fatal, with women between the ages of 20 and 29 having the greatest risk of being murdered by an intimate partner (Paulozzi, Saltzman, Thompson, & Holmgreen, 2001).

Although the literature reveals that the problem of interpersonal violence is prevalent in college campuses and the community at large, there is a gap investigating the relationship between experiencing IPV as a victim and perceptions of future dating relationships. This manuscript first reviews the literature investigating the relationship between behavior and perceptions, followed by the present study that investigated sex differences in the relationship between IPV victimization and the perceptions of dating situations.

Research has revealed that person's perception can influence their behavior (Fiske, 1993; Hilton & Darley, 1991; Jones, 1990; Milgram, 1992; Swann, 1984). For example, Laible, Carlo, Torquati, and Ontai (2004) found that children's perceptions of family relationships predicted children's prosocial or aggressive behavior. Brendgen, Vitaro, Turgeon, Poulin, and Wanner (2004) investigated perceptions of peer relationships and found that children who overestimated or underestimated their social competence with their peer group were more likely to have increased aggression. Attitudes and perceptions that justify the use of aggression during conflict have been a consistent predictor of dating violence (O'Keefe, 1997; Riggs & O'Leary, 1996). For example, O'Keefe (1997, 1998) found that having perceptions that validate the use of violence as a conflict resolution skill increased the risk of dating violence. Additionally, Wolfe, Wekerle, Scott, Straatman, and Grasley (2004) found that attitudes that justified the use of violence mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and the perpetration of dating violence. …

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