Young Women Often Subject to Controlling Behavior Linked to Violence, Study Finds
INDIANAPOLIS -- More than two-thirds of young women surveyed at a New York City reproductive health center reported they had been subjected to controlling behavior by romantic partners, and such behavior appears associated with increased risk of sexual or physical relationship violence.
The findings, from a survey of 603 women aged 15 to 24 years, are reported by a team of researchers from Columbia and Indiana universities in the April 2011 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
“To my knowledge, this is the first study that’s documented that not only do these women report being monitored or controlled by their partners, there’s also a direct relationship between being controlled or monitored by a partner and physical as well as sexual victimization,” said Vaughn I. Rickert, Psy.D., director of the Section of Adolescent Medicine at IU School of Medicine and senior author of this study.
Controlling behaviors included such acts as always wanting to know where the young woman was, suspicions of infidelity and attempting to keep her from seeing friends or family.
Of the women who had been subjected to such behavior, nearly 45 percent also reported being subjected to physical aggression, sexual aggression or both.
The study, authored by Marina Catallozzi, M.D., assistant professor of clinical population and family health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, also found that young women who had been subjected to controlling behavior were more reluctant to report violence in their relationships, and were more likely to be unsure whether they would be able to answer such questions honestly if they were asked about it by a health care provider.
While many experts recommend that efforts to screen for relationship violence should include teenage girls, these findings suggest that the screenings must be done with care to elicit candid responses. Moreover, multiple screenings may be necessary because girls appear more likely to answer honestly as they get older, said Dr. Rickert, Donald Orr M.D. Professor of Adolescent Medicine and professor of pediatrics at IU.
Funding for the research was provided by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.