Gender Patterns in
Intimate Partner Violence:
Results from 33 Campus
Climate Surveys Based on the
Partner Victimization Scale
Anne-Stuart Bell,1 Martha Dinwiddie,1
& Sherry Hamby1,2
1Life Paths Appalachian Research Center, 2University of the South
© 2018 Life Paths Appalachian Research Center. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted to reproduce this report or portions thereof, so long as attribution
to the original source (citation below) is maintained.
Bell, A. S., Dinwiddie, M., & Hamby, S. (2018). Gender patterns in intimate partner
violence: Results from 33 campus climate surveys based on the Partner Victimization
Scale. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.34326.86086. Sewanee, TN: Life Paths Appalachian
Sherry Hamby, firstname.lastname@example.org
Life Paths Appalachian Research Center
PO Box 187
Sewanee, TN 37375
Table of Contents
Overview ..................................................................................... 4
Introduction ............................................................................... 5
The Partner Victimization Scale ................................................................. 6
Monitoring the Campus Climate for Victimization Risk ............................ 7
Method ........................................................................................ 7
Campus Climate Surveys ............................................................................ 7
Independent Publications .......................................................................... 8
Results ........................................................................................ 9
Campus Climate Survey Findings .............................................................. 9
IPV Rates for Graduate vs Undergraduate Students ................................. 12
IPV Victimization Across the Gender Identity Spectrum .......................... 12
Item-Level Data ......................................................................................... 13
Other Replication Findings .......................................................................14
Discussion ................................................................................ 14
References ................................................................................. 17
Campus Climate Survey Links ................................................... 19
Appendix: Partner Victimization Scale ..................................... 20
Objective: The replication of findings is an important aspect of scientific research.
This report examines data from a literature review of campus climate surveys and other
research publications to determine the replicability of the pattern of gender asymmetry
in intimate partner violence (IPV) found in the first studies using the Partner
Victimization Scale (PVS). The key feature of the PVS is that it addresses the issue of
false positives by instructing participants to omit behaviors that involved horseplay or
joking around. Method: A search of the literature identified 33 studies, all campus
climate surveys, with data on gender patterns in victimization rates based on the PVS.
Together, the studies include more than 29,000 participants. Many sites adapted or
modified the PVS, but all retained the key instruction to omit incidents due to horseplay
or joking around. Results: The pooled averages of all survey sites showed a rate of
female victimization (18.0%) that is almost double the rate of male victimization
(10.6%), a statistically significant difference. Although only available for three
campuses, rates for participants who identified as transgender or gender non-
conforming were high (19.4%). Conclusions: The results provide independent
replication of the gender asymmetry found in Hamby’s original study. These findings
are consistent with other IPV indicators, including homicide data, reports to police,
witness reports, arrests, help-seeking data, and some other self-report data. These
results provide further support for the premise that the gender symmetry that has been
found in other surveys may be largely due to false positive reports. Further research
should include the full spectrum of gender identities to better understand gender and
As a society, we have reached consensus on many aspects of intimate partner violence
(IPV), such as recognizing the severity of harms often caused by IPV and the need to
invest in efforts to understand the causes and ameliorate IPV’s negative impacts (Black
et al., 2011). Understanding the prevalence, victimization, and perpetration of IPV is
crucial to furthering efforts to curtail it. However, tracking the occurrence of IPV has
proved unexpectedly challenging, with large discrepancies in the rates of IPV across data
sources (Hamby, 2014). Even more surprisingly, some measures have suggested gender
parity, or similar rates of victimization for men and women (with very little data on
people who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming). In contrast, many other
indicators, such as homicide rates, reports to the police, arrests by police, reports by
witnesses, help-seeking, and some other self-report measures, do not find gender parity.
Recently, Hamby (2016a,b) has identified false positives as a likely source of the gender
parity observed with some measures, based on previous research on false positives and a
series of studies exploring the impact of item wording on obtained gender patterns for
IPV (Hamby, 2016a,b). This report summarizes the findings of others who have used or
adapted the Partner Victimization Scale (PVS) to explore gender patterns in
Hamby (2017a) provides an overview of the debate that continues among violence
researchers on the problem of accurately measuring IPV, namely, the question of gender
parity in reports of IPV victimization. Gender parity researchers have defined parity as
“approximately equal rates of perpetration of nonsexual physical assaults by male and
female partners, or higher rates by female partners” (Straus, 2011, p. 280). Some
research methodologies, typically self-report scales, produce seemingly incongruous
results as compared to the reports coming out of legal, criminal, and advocacy
institutions (Hamby, 2009, 2014). Although the latter data sources support the notion
that women experience IPV victimization at rates higher than do men, this asymmetry is
often not reflected in results from self-report scales, especially the Conflict Tactics Scale
(Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996). Overwhelmingly, women are the
primary seekers of aid from law enforcement, shelters, and other services in the context
of IPV (Hamby, 2009; 2014). If support seeking followed the data found in much of IPV
research, we should see equal or similar levels of support-seeking between men and
women. As many studies report a lack of gender difference in victimization or
perpetration (e.g., Bookwala, Frieze, Smith, & Ryan, 1992; Straus, 2007), one would
expect to see that reflected in criminal incident reports, advocate client logs, and
numbers of shelter residents. This discrepancy produces an important quandary for
violence researchers that warrants more widespread investigation.
Given that findings of gender parity are contrary to reports by legal, criminal, and
advocacy institutions, we must consider the validity of the scales used in IPV research
(Hamby, 2014). Hamby has hypothesized that it is the wording of survey questions that
creates the illusion of parity, and that false positives in some surveys explain the
discrepancy across some broadly-worded surveys and other sources of data on IPV
(Hamby, 2009; Hamby, 2016b, 2017a). Several studies have suggested that false
positive reporting is common in some IPV measures (Ackerman, 2018; Arriaga, 2002;
Fernández-González, O’Leary, & Muñoz-Rivas, 2013; Foshee, Bauman, Linder, Rice, &
Wilcher, 2007; Gonzalez-Mendez & Hernandez-Cabrera, 2009; Jouriles, Garrido,
Rosenfield, & McDonald, 2009; Lerhner & Allen, 2014). Recent research suggests that
this problem is not limited to the CTS and other similar broadly-worded IPV checklists,
but may also extend to sexual assault measures, which may also need efforts to increase
item precision (Littleton, Layh, Rudolph, & Haney, online first).
The Partner Victimization Scale
The Partner Victimization Scale (PVS; Hamby, 2016a) is intended to filter out false
positive responses. There are a variety of pushes and even hits that do not meet the
definition of violence, such as those occurring during accidents, contact sports, and
other settings, but prior research suggests that, especially for younger people, horseplay
and joking around is a major source of these false positives. Violence requires the
intentional commission of unwanted, unnecessary, and harmful acts (Hamby, 2017b).
Thus, each PVS item is prefaced with the clarification, “Not including horseplay or
joking around…” The statement is not only intended to screen out behaviors such as
play-wrestling, which are largely consensual and harmless behaviors, but also to better
communicate that the disclosures are for aggressive, malicious behaviors. This phrase
was chosen after consideration of some other alternatives, although other approaches to
screening out false positives also reduce gender parity (see Hamby, 2016a and 2017a for
other options). With such clarification, it is less likely for participants to be included
incorrectly in the victimization count.
The original PVS study (Hamby, 2016a) was based on a sample of 1207 adults ranging
from 18-70 years of age (M = 33.4 years; SD = 11.2 years) and 66% female-identified
from a low-income region in rural Appalachia. In this sample, 34.1% of females reported
any lifetime IPV victimization; 18.7% of males reported lifetime IPV victimization,
indicating significantly higher female victimization and rates that were almost twice as
high for women. Individual item rates ranged from 11.5% to 27.8% for women and 1.8%
to 14.2% for men, showing significant gender asymmetry for each question (see
Appendix for text of items). The first replication was also conducted by Hamby (2016b)
in a sample of 614 drawn from the same region. Gender asymmetry was again found,
although the reported rates were somewhat higher (44.5% for women and 30% for
men). Each item again showed asymmetry, with females reporting higher victimization
Monitoring the Campus Climate for Victimization Risk
Interest in IPV surveillance has recently increased considerably on college campuses,
thanks to changes in Title IX guidance during the Obama administration. The
collaborators of the Administrator Researcher Campus Climate Collaborative (ARC3,
2015) sought to improve the surveillance of various types of misconduct, including IPV.
They recommended a slightly adapted version of the PVS (details in Method) for
universities using the ARC3 Campus Climate Survey, providing a potentially large pool
of studies in a relatively short time period. This created an opportunity to examine the
results of independent replications of gender patterns based on the PVS.
The purpose of this report is to review the gender patterns in independent replications
based on the Partner Victimization Scale (Hamby 2016a,b).
We reviewed multiple literature types for this report. We conducted two different
literature searches. The first search specifically looked for campus climate surveys that
used the ARC3 to measure dating violence. The second literature search reviewed those
publications which have cited the Hamby, 2016 PVS paper.
Campus Climate Surveys
The ARC3 is the result of a collaborative group of sexual assault researchers and campus
professionals seeking to develop an effective measure for campus climate surveys in
response to the White House Task Force on Keeping Students Safe on Campus. The
ARC3 is an effort to improve the quality of the data being collected in campus climate
surveys. The items used in the ARC3 survey were derived from the PVS. We were aware
that the PVS had been incorporated into the ARC3 because Kevin Swartout, one of the
ARC3 researchers, contacted Hamby for permission to use the PVS in the ARC3. For the
dating violence module, any affirmative response is coded as the participant having
experienced or perpetrated IPV. The ARC3 and further information about the ARC3
project can be accessed through the collaborative’s website:
Each university has flexibility in whether they use the entire ARC3 and/or modify it in
any way, but we still anticipated that these might be a source of PVS-based data. Each
university can use the Georgia State University team (where ARC3 is based) as a
resource, but those researchers are not typically directly involved in the data collection
on any individual campus.
We conducted a systematic review of the literature using two search engines, Google
Scholar and Bing, that include “gray” literature (reports and other documents published
outside of traditional journals or books). Both searches were restricted to results
published from 2015 to the present (after the PVS would have been available). We used
two different search strings, which were modeled after ones developed by Krause et al.
(in press) for a review of sexual assault rates. The first, (“campus climate survey” OR
“title IX” OR “sexual violence” OR “sexual assault”) ~survey filetype:pdf site:edu,
produced hits of 1760 in Google and 3360 in Bing. The second string, (“campus climate
survey” OR “title IX” OR “sexual violence” OR “dating” OR “intimate partner” OR
“relationship” OR “sexual assault”) ~survey filetype:pdf site:edu, resulted in hits of
20,800 in Google and 621,000 in Bing. Due to the large number of hits produced by
these types of search engines, most of which do not include relevant data, we adopted a
procedure developed in Hamby, Blount, et al. (2017), in which pages of “hits” were
searched until an entire page of 10 hits yielded no relevant results. This resulted in
reviewing 240 articles, producing rates for 33 campuses.
Data from surveys were included in this review if they provided rates of dating violence
victimization for male and female participants, at a minimum. If available, rates are
also provided for people who reported another gender identity (transgender or other
gender non-conforming, TGNC).
Included surveys also needed to have the PVS exclusion criteria statement in their
campus climate survey. Sites differed in where they included the statement about
horseplay or joking; some schools stated it only in the instructions, whereas others kept
it in front of each item, as in the original PVS format. Some campuses added additional
questions on dating violence beyond what is included in the original PVS (see below).
The referent period in the ARC3 survey is the time the participant has been a student on
their current campus.
For other uses of the PVS, we conducted a literature review of publications that cite the
article from which the PVS originated (Hamby, 2016a), as indicated by Google Scholar
in June, 2018. This resulted in 34 articles. To be included in this review, the
publications needed to provide quantitative data on the PVS by independent authors
that included rates of victimization for males and females. Three articles included data
on victimization from studies conducted by independent authors, but two of these only
included female victimization and one of them reported “modes” (the average number of
items endorsed), not the rate (percentage of participants reporting at least one
victimization). Thus, none of these studies met our inclusion criteria, but the three data-
based ones are described briefly in results.
Campus Climate Survey Findings
We found 13 universities or university systems that used the ARC3 for their campus
climate survey, with the Penn State system including data from multiple campuses. This
resulted in data from 33 campuses for this report. Sample sizes ranged from 61
(Dickinson Law campus of Penn State) to 6952 participants (University of Iowa,), with
an average sample size of 1089.
The assessment of IPV varied somewhat across surveys. Several campuses added items
to their IPV modules. Examples of these include items regarding sexual safety (“My
partner refused to wear a condom when I wanted to”), psychological abuse (“My partner
insisted on knowing where I was at all times” and “…tried to keep me from seeing or
talking to friends and family”), and sexual orientation (“My partner threatened to
disclose my sexual orientation against my will”). We included results of all surveys that
retained the key PVS innovation, which is instructing respondents not to include any
horseplay or joking around in their reports of violence. All campuses coded participants
as having experienced IPV if they answered affirmatively to one or more items on the
Although rates of IPV varied among campuses, in general female respondents reported
higher victimization than their male peers (see Figure 1). Rates of female IPV
victimization ranged from 0% of the female sample to 31%, with a pooled average of
18.0%; rates of male IPV victimization ranged from 0% of the male sample to 25.1%,
with a pooled average of 10.6% (see Table 1). A chi-square test of independence was
performed to examine the relation between gender and victimization. The relation
between the variables was significant, X2 (1, N = 29143) = 293.41, p < .0001. Female-
identifying participants were significantly more likely to be IPV victims than their male
Figure 1. Pooled averages for IPV rates across 33 campuses that used the ARC3
survey, with more than 29,000 total respondents. See Table 1 for rates for males and
females for each campus. See pages 12-13 for available information on
transgender/gender non-conforming (TGNC) students.
Victimization Rates for Females and Males from ARC3 Campus Climate Survey Sites
Campus Female % n Male % n
U. Washington 31.0% 2683 25.1% 1613
U. Illinois 26.1 1451 15.5 888
Ferris State U. 25.6 402 10.6 240
Ohio U. 22.4 1035 9.9 314
Palm Beach Atlantic U. 22.0 203 16.7 23
Tulane U. 18.5 -- 12.1 --
U. Iowa (2017) 17.5 4728 10.3 2198
U. Oregon 12.8 824 6.4 477
U. Iowa (2015) 12.7 1972 5.7 711
Penn State Campuses
University Park (Main campus) 12.2 2460 7.1 2085
Wilkes-Barre 17.8 a 44 5.8 a 71
Schuylkill 14.1 98 7.7 a 42
Behrend 11.7 182 7.6 268
Berks 11.2 186 7.1 184
Harrisburg (Undergraduate) 11.2 163 2.5 a 170
Abingdon 10.7 159 3.8 a 105
Altoona 10.1 208 3.0 a 172
York 9.9 122 3.7 a 112
Payette 9.9 a 102 2.1 a 50
Greater Allegheny 9.5 a 63 5.0 a 62
Worthington Scranton 9.1 a 100 1.3 a 77
Lehigh Valley 8.8 a 91 1.3 a 82
Mont Alto 8.4 a 107 1.7 a 60
Harrisburg (Graduate) 7.4 a 96 2.8 a 62
Beaver 7.1 a 84 5.1 a 78
Shenango 7.0 a 71 0.0 a 25
Hershey 6.6 229 2.8 a 182
Hazleton 6.5 a 109 4.2 a 99
Dickinson Law 6.1 a 31 3.9 a 30
DuBois 5.5 a 80 7.7 a 67
Brandywine 4.6 a 135 2.3 a 129
New Kensington 4.2 a 72 5.6 a 89
Great Valley 0.0 a 38 0.0 a 50
Sample sizes for each gender -- 18328 -- 10815
Pooled rate 18.0% 3302 10.6% 1141
Chi-square = 293.41, p < .0001.
Notes. Participants were considered an IPV victim if they provided 1 or more affirmative responses to IPV questions.
Tulane omitted from chi-square analysis due to lack of sample size information. Sites often modified items from the
original PVS, but all of these sites retained the key PVS innovation, which is instructing participants to omit incidents
involving horseplay or joking around.
a Victimization rate estimate based on 10 or fewer participants reporting victimization, interpret with caution.
U of Oregon Penn State
(Harrisburg) Penn State
Undergraduate IPV by Campus
U of Oregon Penn State
(Harrisburg) Penn State
Graduate IPV by Campus and
IPV Rates for Graduate vs Undergraduate Students
The higher rates of female victimization were not limited to traditionally aged college
students (18 to 22 years). This is best illustrated by the schools that reported data for
both graduate and undergraduate students, providing rates of victimization for two
distinct age groups. In both graduate (Figure 2) and undergraduate surveys (Figure 3),
female respondents reported more victimization than males. Graduate females reported
a victimization rate of 11.0% (Oregon), 7.4% (Penn State – Harrisburg), and 9.2% (Penn
State – University Park). In comparison, male graduate students reported lower rates of
victimization – 7.0% (Oregon), 2.8% (Penn State – Harrisburg), and 4.9% (Penn State).
Figure 2. Figure 3.
IPV Victimization Across the Gender Identity Spectrum
Only three campuses reported data for transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-
conforming (TGNC) students. Although sample sizes for TGNC participants were small
(range 25 to 75), they reported the highest rates at two of the three campuses. The
lowest rate of victimization was 18.9% of the TGNC sample; the highest rate was 32.0%.
As seen in Figure 1, the pooled rate for these campuses was 19.4%, slightly higher than
the pooled rates for female-identified students and almost twice as high as the rate for
male-identified students. More inclusive measures of gender are needed in future
0.0% 2.0% 4.0% 6.0% 8.0% 10.0% 12.0% 14.0%
…tried to hurt me by pushing, grabbing, or shaking me
…tried to hurt me by hitting me
…beat me up
…threatened me and I thought I would get hurt
…stole or destroyed my property
…can scare me without laying a hand on me
Individual Item Response by Gender for Penn State Sample
Male (n = 888)
Female (n = 1451)
Overall (n = 2742)
Figure 4. Victimization rates for campuses including transgender or gender non-
conforming as a gender identity.
Penn State at University Park also included a breakdown of each item in their IPV
module (Figure 5). Each item demonstrated gender asymmetry except for “…tried to
hurt me by hitting me.”
U of Washington Ohio U Penn State (University Park)
Percentage IPV Victimization
Male Female GNC/Genderqueer/Transgender
Other Replication Findings
We were able to find three other independent studies that used the PVS with their
samples. As noted in the Method, two of the studies only reported data on female
participants (Schultz, 2016; Woerner, 2017). Woerner also reported only the average
number of acts endorsed, no rates.
Notably, Schultz’s study was a national sample of Tribal Colleges and Universities
(TCUs), providing some evidence of reliability and validity for use with native
communities. That study showed a 42% IPV victimization rate (n = 755, N = 1810), the
highest of the female victimization rates included in this review.
Rosenthal, Smidt, and Freyd (2016) did not report rates for dating violence, but for all
types of sexual and intimate victimization, 70% of women reported at least one form of
sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, or dating violence, compared to 54% of men.
Because this rate is not directly comparable to the IPV rates in the campus climate
surveys, it was not included in the pooled average. However, the rate still suggests
asymmetry in sexual and intimate victimization.
This review provides further evidence that efforts to reduce false positives in IPV self-
report produce rates indicating more female than male victimization. Although some
other self-report surveys have also found gender asymmetry, the reasons for the
discrepancies across self-report surveys has not been well understood (Hamby, 2017a).
These results provide a measurement approach that aligns with other indicators of IPV,
including homicides, arrests, reports to police (whether they result in arrest or not),
witness reports, and help-seeking data, all of which consistently indicate higher rates of
female than male victimization.
Further, these results suggest that many different questions can be used under the
general framework of instructing participants not to report incidents involving
horseplay or joking around. Several sites added some questions, re-worded PVS
questions, and/or moved the instruction to omit horseplay and joking around from the
item stem (beginning of each item) to the general instructions for the scale. For the
most part as long as that essential element was included, gender symmetry was not
found. Although not strict replications of the PVS study, these modifications indicate
that the PVS pattern is robust to these types of modifications. It appears that the gender
patterns observed are not specific to the wording of the PVS items, but rather the
general effort to reduce false positives is accounting for the gender asymmetry in
A few other observations can be offered. Small samples under 200 participants—and
especially those under 100 participants—tended to produce the lowest estimates. Of the
16 campuses with rates under 10% for females, 15 of them had sample sizes under 150
female participants. Similarly, of the 15 campuses with rates under 5% for males, 12 of
those had sample sizes of under 150 male participants. This suggests that these rates
may be unstable, especially for men, with several rates based on fewer than 10 victims.
Even beyond size, sampling may be an issue. Some schools may be struggling to recruit
their most at-risk students into campus climate surveys. Some of these schools also
produced similar rates for males and females, with one survey of 88 participants even
producing a rate of 0% for males and females (which is unlikely to be a correct estimate
of the true population parameter). The difference between these findings and those
from the larger samples, which never showed gender symmetry, are striking and
illustrate the importance of adequate sample sizes to measure phenomena that have
relatively low base rates, from a statistical point of view, even though they represent
significant public health problems in terms of the burden on individuals and
The pooled averages in this report are similar to those found among a national high
school sample in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS; Vagi, O’Malley Olsen, Basile, &
Vivolo-Kantor, 2015). As in these replications, female victimization was much higher
than male victimization. In Vagi et al., female high schoolers had a victimization rate of
20.9% and the male peers had a rate of 10.4%. In the YRBS, an annual CDC survey,
asymmetry was found only after the YRBS was reworded to operationalize concepts like
intent and harm (Vagi, O’Malley Olsen, Basile, & Vivolo-Kantor). Previously, the YRBS
found gender symmetry, from what appears now to be due to the overly broad wording
of earlier items.
The data about graduate versus undergraduate rates of IPV victimization provides a few
interesting insights. Primarily, the continuation of gender asymmetry in the graduate
sample suggests that higher rates of female victimization are not limited to a young,
undergraduate sample. This was consistent with the findings of the original PVS study
and first replication, which were also conducted on older samples (Hamby, 2016a,b).
Future directions include expanding gender identity categories beyond male and female.
Only a few sites included other options in this review. In the few samples reporting
TGNC data, they reported far higher victimization rates than either male-identified or
female-identified students. Further study of this demographic could prove useful to the
question of gender parity and IPV victimization risks.
The PVS and ARC3 are both relatively new and hopefully new approaches to measuring
intimate partner violence will continue. Due to the inclusion of PVS items in the ARC3,
there have already been several studies conducted, but almost all of them have been
with college student populations, except for the original PVS sample and Hamby’s
replication. More diverse samples are needed.
Unfortunately, Title IX guidelines do not suggest standardized reporting methods,
which resulted in a wide variety of reporting methods, lengths, styles, and detail.
Whereas some campuses provided a more academic report of results, others included a
simplified executive summary or key points presentation. We were not able to access
information for many universities.
Overall, these campus climate surveys indicate higher female IPV victimization than
male IPV victimization. Providing accurate assessments, particularly when the results of
the research are needed to guide prevention, intervention, and policy, is crucial for
violence research. These new efforts to more accurately monitor intimate partner
violence on college campuses are an important step toward an improved understanding
of IPV and will hopefully allow us to more effectively prevent IPV in the future.
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* denotes source of campus climate survey providing data for the current study
Campus Climate Surveys:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Oregon
University of North Texas
Ferris State University
University of Washington
University of Iowa (2015)
University of Iowa (2017)
Note. *** Main campus, largest sample
Midwestern State University
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Partner Victimization Scale (PVS)
Answer the next questions about any boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife you have had, including exes.
1. Not including horseplay or joking around, my partner threatened to hurt me and I thought I might
really get hurt.
2. Not including horseplay or joking around, my partner pushed, grabbed, or shook me.
3. Not including horseplay or joking around, my partner hit me.
4. Not including horseplay or joking around, my partner beat me up.
5. My partner made me do sexual things when I didn’t want to.
© 2014 Sherry Hamby. Permission is granted to use the PVS without fee with appropriate citation of original article.