AJPH First Look, published online ahead of print Mar 29, 2007


May 2007, Vol 97, No. 5 | American Journal of Public Health 941-947
© 2007 American Public Health Association
DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.079020


Differences in Frequency of Violence and Reported Injury Between Relationships With Reciprocal and Nonreciprocal Intimate Partner Violence

Daniel J. Whitaker, PhD, Tadesse Haileyesus, MS, Monica Swahn, PhD and Linda S. Saltzman, PhD

At the time of this study, Daniel J. Whitaker and Linda S. Saltzman were with the Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga. Tadesse Haileyesus is with the Office of Statistics and Programming, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Monica Swahn is with the Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Correspondence: Requests for reprints should be sent to Daniel Whitaker, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, NE, MS K-60, Atlanta, GA 30341 (e-mail: dpw7@cdc.gov ).

Objectives. We sought to examine the prevalence of reciprocal (i.e., perpetrated by both partners) and nonreciprocal intimate partner violence and to determine whether reciprocity is related to violence frequency and injury.

Methods. We analyzed data on young US adults aged 18 to 28 years from the 2001 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which contained information about partner violence and injury reported by 11 370 respondents on 18761 heterosexual relationships.

Results. Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence, and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent. In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases. Reciprocity was associated with more frequent violence among women (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.9, 2.8), but not men (AOR=1.26; 95% CI=0.9, 1.7). Regarding injury, men were more likely to inflict injury than were women (AOR=1.3; 95% CI=1.1, 1.5), and reciprocal intimate partner violence was associated with greater injury than was nonreciprocal intimate partner violence regardless of the gender of the perpetrator (AOR=4.4; 95% CI=3.6, 5.5).

Conclusions. The context of the violence (reciprocal vs nonreciprocal) is a strong predictor of reported injury. Prevention approaches that address the escalation of partner violence may be needed to address reciprocal violence.

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