Recent research indicates one in five college students report having experienced a physically or emotionally abusive intimate relationship. Understanding and preventing intimate partner violence (IPV) among college-aged students is essential, given the extent to which this violence can result in academic, emotional and physical problems, according to research by a Georgia State University criminologist and colleagues.
In the chapter, “Intimate Partner Violence Among College Students: Measurement, Risk Factors, Consequences, and Responses,” published in “The Wiley Handbook on the Psychology of Violence,” Leah Daigle, an associate professor in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Heidi Scherer (Kennesaw State University), Bonnie Fisher (University of Cincinnati) and Andia Azimi (Georgia State University) identify the extent of IPV among college students and how different measurement tools influence these estimates.
They identify the factors that elevate the risk of experiencing IPV, the likelihood of males and females to engage in and be victims of IPV, and the reasons behind using and receiving violence and aggression. They then offer a review of the prevention strategies, including federal legislation, which are designed to reduce IPV among college students.
Research on college students’ experiences with intimate partner violence has largely been conducted through surveys of small samples from multiple college campuses.
Women are most likely to experience nonfatal intimate partner violence between the ages of 16 to 24, when a young woman’s peers and intimate partners become more influential in her life than her parents and family. Women from 20 to 29 years old have the greatest risk of being murdered by their intimate partner. As women age, their risk of experiencing dating violence decreases.
The length and status of a relationship is also an indicator of IPV, according to the researchers. Couples that have been involved with one another longer are more emotionally invested and experience more problems and stress. In some cases, their response to this stress is abuse.
Additionally, demographics and race are related to intimate partner violence. Unemployed and low-income individuals are more likely to engage in abusive behaviors. By race, African American college-aged women, in particular, are twice as likely to experience violence as their Hispanic and Caucasian counterparts.
Intimate partner violence can lead to depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress. Victims are also more likely to cause themselves injury, partake in risk-taking behaviors and have suicidal thoughts. Evidence suggests that intimate partner violence among college-aged victims can have an effect on educational experiences, resulting in a drop in grade point averages and academic withdrawals.
The research on educational prevention programs, though not extensive, suggests they are successful at changing students’ attitudes about intimate partner violence, making it more likely students will stand up for themselves or others. Bystander intervention, for example, teaches bystanders they have the potential to help a victim by removing them from the situation or supporting them after the situation has occurred.
Intimate partner violence is influenced by a variety of factors. In this chapter, research suggests that with increased education on the subject and increased bystander intervention on campuses, its prevention is promising.
“The Wiley Handbook on the Psychology of Violence” is available via online retailers and at onlinelibrary.wiley.com/book/10.1002/9781118303092