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Longitudinal Perspective on Physical and Sexual Intimate Partner Violence Against Women (From Violence Against Women and Family Violence: Developments in Research, Practice, and Policy, 2004, Bonnie Fisher, ed. -- See NCJ-199701)

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
10 pages
This longitudinal study examined experiences with interpersonal violence in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood for a sample of college women.
Childhood and adolescent data were retrospective; data collected across the four collegiate years were prospective. The study focused on physical violence against women among acquaintances, paralleling existing research on experiences with sexual coercion (Humphrey and White, 2000). The co-occurrence of sexual and physical assault and the relationship between experiences of sexual and physical violence as a victim were also addressed. Specific goals of the research where to examine whether and how the characteristics of the victim and the environment (situational/contextual effects) individually and in combination affected the risk of physical victimization during adolescence and young adulthood; the study also considered how these factors evolved from one developmental stage to the next, so as to predict the onset of victimization and the occurrence of revictimization. Two incoming classes of women (1990 and 1991) were surveyed regarding a variety of social experiences. Approximately 83 percent of the 1990 class (n=825) and 84 percent of the 1991 class (n=744) provided usable surveys. Three incoming freshmen classes of men (1990, 1991, and 1992) were also surveyed on a range of social experiences (n=835). A classic longitudinal design was used and replicated over two cohorts (those born in 1972 and 1973), with participants assessed first at 18 years old, and again at 19, 20, 21, and 22 years old. Fully 88 percent of the women reported having experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual victimization between adolescence and their fourth year of college. Only 12 percent of the women indicated no incidents of physical or sexual victimization between age 14 and the end of the fourth year of college. The proportion of women who experienced any physical victimization (77.8 percent) and any sexual victimization (79.2 percent) was nearly identical. Young women were at greatest risk for physical dating violence in high school. For young women who were not victimized in high school, the risk of first victimization in college was low. Analyses further indicated that the co-occurrence of physical and sexual victimization was common. Childhood victimization increased women's risk for high school victimization, and different types of childhood victimization placed women at risk for different types of dating violence. Although young adults who experienced childhood victimization were, generally, at greater risk for dating-violence victimization in high school, those who had been victimized as children but were not victimized in high school were no more likely than those not abused as children to experience physical or sexual victimization in college. An increased number of sex partners was associated with all types of victimization. Women who had experienced covictimization and those who had been only sexually victimized during adolescence had the greatest number of sex partners during adolescence, followed by those who had been only physically assaulted. These patterns were maintained during the college years. Alcohol use was highest for women who experienced covictimization in adolescence and the first year of college, and women with no history of victimization reported the lowest rates of alcohol use. Implications are drawn for future research and for practitioners. 1 exhibit and 11 references

Date Published: January 1, 2004