Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Views of Intimate Partner Violence in Same- and Opposite-Sex Relationships

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Views of Intimate Partner Violence in Same- and Opposite-Sex Relationships

Article excerpt

Attitudes toward same-sex intimate relationships and intimate partner violence (IPV) are changing. Little research, however, has examined norms about IPV in same-sex relationships. Using a fractional factorial (experimental vignette) design, we conducted random-digit-dialed interviews in four languages with 3,679 community-residing adults. Multivariate analyses of responses to 14,734 vignettes suggest that IPV against gay male, lesbian, and heterosexual women is more likely than that against heterosexual men to be considered illegal and that it should be illegal, police called, and a stay-away order issued. Regardless of gender and sexual orientation, the type of abuse and whether a weapon was displayed are the strongest predictors of respondents' judgments about whether a behavior is illegal and merits a range of societal interventions.

Key Words: community, experimental methods, gay/lesbian/ bisexual/transgender, intimate partner/marital abuse, violence, survey research.

Since its inception as a topic of scholarly inquiry, the definition of what constitutes vio- lence against an intimate has evolved from phys- ical assault alone to include sexual assault, psychological maltreatment, and stalking. Moreover, the term "domestic violence," which is widely used and largely associated with mar- ried heterosexual couples, has been supplanted in some quarters by the term "intimate partner violence" (IPV) so as to explicitly include peo- pie who are in nonmarital relationships, for example, dating adolescents, divorced women, and lesbians and gay men.

As views of violence in intimate relationships are changing, so are perceptions of same-sex relationships. Concomitant with more positive attitudes toward gay men and lesbians and their sexual behavior during the past generation (Hicks & Lee, 2006; Treas, 2002), national polls document dramatically increased support of civil unions, inheritance rights, and Social Security benefits for gay male and lesbian partners (Brewer & Wilcox, 2005). There are limits, however. A majority of Americans believe that same-sex marriage undermines traditional family values and do not support same-sex marriage (Brewer & Wilcox; Schmitt, Lehmiller, & Walsh, 2007). And Americans remain divided on the issue of whether children should be adopted by same-sex couples (Pew Research Center, 2006).

Those who hold more negative views about gay men and lesbians are those with less formal education (Ohlander, Batalova, & Treas, 2005), higher religiosity (Hicks & Lee, 2006), stronger adherence to traditional male and female roles (Hicks & Lee), and little personal contact with gay men and lesbians (Herek & Glunt, 1993). Antigay sentiment is believed to be strong in minority communities (Diaz, Ayala, Bein, Henne, & Marin, 2001; Mays & Cochran, 2001; Wilson & Yoshikawa, 2004); nonetheless, some of these same groups favor protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (Lewis, 2003). Many of the participants in the present investigation are immigrants, so it may be useful to note that acceptance of same-sex intimate relationships varies substantially around the world. People in Africa and the Middle East strongly object to same-sex intimate relationships whereas major Latin American countries and Western European countries are much more accepting (Pew Global Attitudes Project, 2003).

Gender also plays a role in attitudes about intimate same-sex relationships. As a group, heterosexual men generally hold more negative attitudes about gay men and lesbians than do heterosexual women. Men and women hold similar attitudes about lesbians, but men (vs. women) hold harsher attitudes toward gay men (Hicks & Lee, 2006; Ratcliff, Lassiter, Markman, & Snyder, 2006).

Intimate Partner Violence Among Lesbians and Gay Men

Research to date suggests that lesbians and gay men report a nature and scope of IPV similar to that reported by heterosexual women: Psychological abuse is the most common form of IPV, multiple forms of abuse are relatively typical, and IPV becomes more frequent and severe over time (Bradford, Ryan, & Rothblum, 1994; Craft & Serovich, 2005; Greenwood et al. …

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