We Say “No” to Intimate Partner Violence, but Do We Recognize It?
Authors:Rachel Mendez, Belen Oceguera, Jessica Raygoza, Carlos Vidales, Erika Zambrano-Morales
Mentor:Gaithri Fernando, Associate Professor Department of Psychology, California State University Los Angeles
Intimate partner violence (IPV) refers to any physical, verbal, sexual, or psychological abuse and/or proprietary control by a current or former partner or spouse. In 2007 IPV resulted in 2,340 deaths, of which 70% were females (CDC). IPV is a preventable cause of death and disability. Researchers have noted that perpetrators of IPV often use mild forms of violence, such as humiliation and intimidation, before escalating to more lethal acts. Additionally, most intimate relationships begin in early adulthood, thus it would be important to know if young adults can recognize mild forms of IPV. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether mild IPV could be accurately identified by young adults. 171 college students (118 females) between the ages of 18 and 53 (M = 21.71, SD= 5.6) were surveyed from a diverse urban university. Participants watched three videos depicting examples of IPV, including one depicting mild IPV. Participants then completed a survey which included nine questions regarding the appropriateness of the partner's behavior (scored 1 for accurate or 0 for inaccurate response; scoring 7/9 indicated successful recognition). Participants also completed the Intimate Partner Violence Acceptance Scale, which assessed attitudes accepting of IPV. Results indicated that 55% of the participants were unable to recognize mild IPV. An analysis of variance indicated no gender differences in recognizing IPV. A weak but significant correlation was found between recognition of IPV and rejection of IPV as a means of solving conflict, r (170) = -.23, p <.01. However, as noted, less than half of the sample could consistently recognize acts of mild IPV. This finding is different from those of other studies, which have found a stronger relationship between recognition of IPV and acceptance of it. Some reasons for these differences are discussed.