The risk of intimate partner violence varies by ethnicity

  • Roughly one in five couples has experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) in the previous year.
  • New longitudinal research has found that black and Hispanic couples are two to three times more likely to report male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence than white couples do.
  • Impulsivity may be a significant risk factor for the development of IPV among ethnic minorities.
  • Alcohol consumption appears to be a significant risk factor among white couples.

Survey research from the past 25 years indicates that approximately one in five couples has experienced an episode of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the preceding year. A longitudinal study in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found that black and Hispanic couples are two to three times more likely to report male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence than white couples, even after statistically controlling for socio-demographic and psychosocial variables, including alcohol consumption.

Researchers collected initial data for this study in 1995, surveying 1,635 married or cohabitating couples 18 years of age or older and living in households in the United States. In 2000, a follow-up survey reached 1,025 of these same couples, including 406 white, 232 black, and 387 Hispanic couples. Specific risk factors examined included male and female reports of a history of childhood abuse, exposure to parental violence, impulsivity, alcohol problems, frequency of drinking five or more drinks per occasion, volume of alcohol consumed per week in average standard drinks, approval of marital aggression, and male-to-female and female-to-male partner violence at baseline.

"We found higher rates of partner violence in ethnic minority groups," said Craig A. Field, a professor at The University of Texas Houston School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus, and corresponding author for the study. "Black and Hisp


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