Estimates from national family violence surveys show that within a given year, 12% of men sustain physical aggression from their intimate female partners and 4% are severely assaulted. Also, men who sustain intimate partner violence (IPV) account for 40% of all injuries due to IPV and 38% of all victims who lose time from work. Despite this knowledge regarding the prevalence of IPV towards men, little is known of the mental and physical health consequences for men who sustain IPV, particularly in comparison to what we know about women who sustain IPV. Our previous NIMH grant showed that, similar to female victims, men who sustain IPV are at risk for diagnosis of any mental health disorder, PTSD, and substance abuse. However, little is known about their risk for other mental and physical health problems that have been shown in women who sustain IPV, including depression, suicidal behavior, smoking, and gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems, nor is much known about the direction of effects among IPV victimization, mental health, and physical health problems. Further, although research shows that children who witness their mothers sustaining IPV are at risk for a range of physical and mental health problems, there is no research examining the physical and mental health implications of children witnessing their fathers sustaining IPV. In the proposed study, we take a step toward closing these gaps in the IPV research by interviewing, through an online, anonymous secure questionnaire, two samples: (1) a national sample of 750 men who have sought help for IPV victimization from a female partner and who will be recruited through services that specialize in IPV, male victims of IPV, divorced men, fathers'issues, and men's health issues, and (2) a community sample of 1,500 men who will be recruited through the online population-based survey panel maintained by Knowledge Networks. All men will complete questionnaires regarding their history of IPV victimization, risk-taking behaviors, and mental and physical health, and men with minor children will complete questionnaires regarding the extent to which their oldest child has witnessed the IPV, and their mental and physical health.
The aims of this project are to answer the following questions: (1) Is sustaining IPV for men associated with mental health outcomes (e.g., PTSD, depression, and suicidal behavior);risk-taking behaviors (e.g., alcohol/ drug abuse;and physical health outcomes (e.g., musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, &cardiovascular problems)? (2) What is the direction of effects among these constructs? (3) Do children of men who sustain IPV demonstrate mental health problems in the areas of affect, anxiety, ADHD, oppositional defiant issues, conduct problems and drug/alcohol use;and physical health problems, including problems with headaches, stomach aches, and missing school because of illness? and (4) Does children's mental and physical health differ with the level of IPV to which they are exposed in the home and the severity of the event that they witness?

Public Health Relevance

The National Violence Against Women Survey showed that intimate partner violence (IPV) by women against men accounts for 40% of all injuries due to IPV during a one-year time period, 27% of all injuries requiring medical attention, and 31% of all victims who fear bodily harm. There is evidence that IPV sustained by men is associated with various physical and mental health problems in men, such as poor overall physical health, physical injuries, depression, and PTSD, and with poor mental and physical health in the children who witness their fathers sustaining IPV. Thus, IPV against men, like other forms of family violence, can be considered a significant public health and mental health problem in this country;however, in order to effectively treat and prevent all types of family violence, researchers, service providers, and public and mental health practitioners must learn more about IPV against men.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Maholmes, Valerie
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Clark University (Worcester, MA)
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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