Article

Male Partner Violence Against Women in Stepfamilies: An Analysis of Risk and Explanations in the Canadian Milieu

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Abstract

Using a representative sample of 2,703 Canadian women living in either a stepfamily or a biological family, this investigation assesses the extent of women's elevated risk for violence in stepfamilies relative to biological families as well as explanations for this relationship. Canadian women living in stepfamilies are shown to be twice as likely as their counterparts in biological families to experience violence. Differences between the two groups are greatest on some of the most severe forms of violence, suggesting that women in stepfamilies are at particular risk for severe violence. Institutional incompleteness (number of children; depression; alcohol consumption), duration of relationship, evolutionary psychology (sexual possessiveness; sexual jealousy; female employment; education compatibility) and selection factors (previous marriage/common-law union; previous partner violence; marital status) are applied and tested. Results show partial support for each explanation and that no explanation alone accounts for the disproportionate risk of violence in stepfamilies. Rather, a combination of elements from all explanations is required to account for the higher odds of violence against women in stepfamilies.

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... Previous research documents that women residing with children sired by previous partners are overrepresented among the victims of non-lethal intimate partner abuse (Brownridge, 2004;Daly et al., 1993;Figueredo & McCloskey, 1993). Brownridge (2004) analyzed women's experience with non-lethal intimate partner abuse by the method of abuse (slapping, throwing object, etc.) and by the relatedness of the children in the household to the woman and her current partner. ...
... Previous research documents that women residing with children sired by previous partners are overrepresented among the victims of non-lethal intimate partner abuse (Brownridge, 2004;Daly et al., 1993;Figueredo & McCloskey, 1993). Brownridge (2004) analyzed women's experience with non-lethal intimate partner abuse by the method of abuse (slapping, throwing object, etc.) and by the relatedness of the children in the household to the woman and her current partner. Brownridge found that women in stepfamilies are at greater risk of non-lethal intimate partner abuse than women in biological families, and also at greater risk of the most severe, non-lethal forms of physical abuse. ...
... Women with some children sired by a previous partner are increasingly overrepresented among victims of abuse as the severity of abuse increased. The current study connects research on non-lethal forms of woman abuse (e.g., Brownridge, 2004;Daly et al., 1993;Figueredo & McCloskey, 1993) with lethal forms of woman abuse (e.g., Brewer & Paulsen, 1999;Campbell et al., 2003;Daly et al., 1997) using the presence of children sired by a previous partner as a common risk factor uniting the four groups (no abuse, non-lethal abuse, life-threatening non-lethal abuse, and lethal abuse). ...
Article
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Women who are abused by their male intimate partners incur many costs, ranging in severity from fleeting physical pain to death. Previous research has linked the presence of children sired by a woman's previous partner to increased risk of woman abuse and to increased risk of femicide. The current research extends this work by securing data from samples of 111 unabused women, 111 less severely abused women, 128 more severely abused women, and 26 victims of intimate partner femicide from the Chicago Women's Health Risk Study to document an ordinal trend in the risk of experiencing more severe forms of violence for women who have children in the household sired by a previous partner. The discussion addresses two potential explanations for this trend and highlights directions for future research.
... Women living with children sired by previous partners are overrepresented among victims of domestic violence (Brownridge, 2004;Daly et al., 1993;Figueredo & McCloskey, 1993). This pattern exists whether those women also have children with their current partner . ...
... This pattern exists whether those women also have children with their current partner . When physical violence is separated by method of inflicting violence (slapping, throwing objects, etc.), preliminary evidence suggests that women in stepfamilies are at higher risk of the most severe forms of physical violence (Brownridge, 2004). Women living with children sired by previous partners also are at greater risk of femicide than women living with children related genetically to their current partner (Brewer & Paulsen, 1999;Daly et al., 1997). ...
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In this article, we use an evolutionary perspective to examine intimate partner violence, focusing on men's violence against women. Previous examinations of intimate partner violence have typically used a proximate level of analysis, emphasizing the immediate, non-evolutionary causes of intimate partner violence. Complementing this approach, an evolutionary perspective offers an understanding of how such psychology and behavior could have arisen via natural selection. Here, we argue that (1) the recurring adaptive problem of paternity uncertainty plays a central role in intimate partner violence, (2) physical violence functions to punish and deter female sexual infidelity, and (3) sexual violence may function as an anti-cuckoldry tactic, with its occurrence related to suspicion of female sexual infidelity.
... 13 Additionally, research in high-income countries has revealed that women living with a partner who is not the father of their children are more likely to experience IPV. [14][15][16][17] If the DHS added a question to the domestic violence module about the partner's relationship to the respondent's children, this would provide another important piece of information about IPV risk to the woman and her children. ...
... For violent relationships in which the partners share a child, the presence of the child may necessitate ongoing partner contact, which may increase exposure to abuse. Other research has indicated that the risk for IPV occurring with children in the home is particularly high when the male partner is not the biological father of the children [25][26][27]; however, we did not have information about the type of parental relationship to compare to these findings. ...
Article
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Introduction Growing evidence identifies adverse health effects for children who witness intimate partner violence at home. Research has also identified that women seeking elective pregnancy termination are at high risk for partner violence. However, little is known about the risk for violence exposure among the children of women seeking elective pregnancy termination. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study of 957 women seeking elective pregnancy termination at a large family planning clinic. All subjects completed a 10-minute, anonymous questionnaire administered by computer in a private room. Our main outcome was 12-month prevalence of physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former partner using the Abuse Assessment Screen instrument. The presence of children under the age of 18 living with the respondent was the main exposure variable. Results Women with children in the home had more than twice the odds of reporting physical and/or sexual IPV in the past year than women with no children, controlling for age (AOR: 2.23; 95% CI: 1.41–3.85). The increased odds of IPV among women with children as compared to women with no children was present across nearly all sociodemographic and lifestyle characteristics, and significantly higher for the youngest women (18–20 years). The highest odds for abuse occurred among women with children living at home, in a current relationship but not living with their current partner, and abused by a former partner (AOR = 10.9; 95% CI: 3.07–38.4). Conclusion Nearly one of every 14 children identified in this study lived in a home with IPV. These findings support the development of IPV interventions that are family-centered, as well as the integration of trauma-informed care into healthcare settings. Healthcare visits for contraception and pregnancy termination may be ideal opportunities for implementation of screening and family violence interventions.
... Remarriages are less stable than first marriages (Furstenberg and Cherlin 1991;Troy et al. 2006) and this instability could be, in part, linked to the presence of stepchildren (Hohmann-Marriott and Amato 2008). Remarriages, particularly those involving stepchildren, have been shown to face an elevated risk of violence against women (Brownridge 2004;Daly et al. 1993). Thus, a tendency toward greater relationship complexity may also play a role in the elevated risk of violence in interracial relationships. ...
Article
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Research from the U.S. suggests that interracial relationships tend to have an elevated risk of intimate partner violence (IPV). The purposes of this study were to examine IPV in interracial relationships in Canada and explore the extent to which indicators derived from potential explanations account for the elevated risk of IPV in interracial relationships. Data were from a nationally representative sample of more than 19,000 Canadians, of whom 399 were in an interracial relationship and 9,969 were in a non-interracial relationship. Results showed that individuals in interracial relationships faced a significantly elevated risk of IPV victimization. Logistic regression analyses suggested that the presence of children and short union duration were particularly important in accounting for 56 % of the elevated odds of IPV in interracial relationships. Interracial relationships are a vulnerable population and the implications of the elevated risk of IPV in these unions need to be considered in IPV prevention efforts.
... Women who had children not biologically related to their abuser used on average more safety planning strategies compared to women who did not have children. Prior literature has linked the presence of children who are not biologically related to the woman's abuser to increased risk of violence and even risk of femicide (Brownridge, 2004;Miner, Shackelford, Block, Starratt, & Weekes-Shackelford, 2012). The women in this sample may have been using these types of strategies in an effort to protect themselves and their children. ...
Conference Paper
Background: There is an urgent need for effective interventions that enable women in current or past violent relationships to reduce their risk of revictimization. One approach that can be taken is to encourage women to adopt strategies that theoretically increase their safety. Safety planning is an overarching term that captures many of these safety strategies. Although safety planning is common, there is little empirical research focusing on strategy effectiveness. Objective: This study examined safety strategy use in relation to intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization, perceived effectiveness of the strategies, and perception of danger from IPV among abused women. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 197 women seeking temporary protective orders from a domestic violence service provider’s legal clinic. All women were 18 years of age or older and had experienced some level of physical abuse by a current/former intimate partner. Results: Over 90% of the women used one or more strategies in the six months prior to their interview. Severe physical (β=0.25;p≤0.01) and sexual (β=0.12;p≤0.01) violence were significantly associated with increased use of placating strategies. Perceived effectiveness of the strategies was high, yet not significantly associated with strategy use. Increased perception of danger from IPV (β=0.03;p≤0.05) was significantly associated with increased use of safety planning strategies. Conclusion: The results suggest the women were in dangerous situations and they were attempting to protect themselves using safety strategies with questionable effectiveness. These findings contribute to an important line of research aimed at better understanding how context influences women’s help-seeking behavior.
... Evolutionary psychology directs attention to men's need to maintain control over " their sexual property " (Wilson & Daly, 1998). Sexual proprietariness, in terms of male sexual jealousy and possessive behavior, has been linked to violence against women (Brownridge, 2004). Men who are sexually proprietary may be more likely to act violently toward women with disabilities to gain or maintain control over " their sexual property. ...
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Using a representative sample of 7,027 Canadian women living in a marital or common-law union, this investigation examined the risk for partner violence against women with disabilities relative to women without disabilities. Women with disabilities had 40% greater odds of violence in the 5 years preceding the interview, and these women appeared to be at particular risk for severe violence. An explanatory framework was tested that organized variables based on relationship factors, victim-related characteristics, and perpetrator-related characteristics. Results showed that perpetrator-related characteristics alone accounted for the elevated risk of partner violence against women with disabilities. Stakeholders must recognize the problem of partner violence against women with disabilities, and efforts to address patriarchal domination and male sexual proprietariness appear crucial to reducing their risk of partner violence.
Chapter
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a public health issue existing in most countries, occurring across all demographic, ethnic, cultural and socio-economic lines. Women of child-bearing age are at the highest risk of IPV, and the prevalence of IPV is disproportionately high in families with children younger than five years of age. Research has documented a pervasive link between intimate partner violence and child maltreatment (CM). This chapter provides a foundation for understanding the relationship between IPV and CM. An overview of related epidemiology is presented with a discussion of the comorbidity of IPV and CM. Focus is given to the cultural considerations in researching and addressing the occurrence and co-occurrence of IPV and CM. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future research as well as policy implications.
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Some of the earliest and most well-known sociological studies showed that marriage was beneficial to mental health, marriage benefited the mental health of men more than women, and parenthood caused psychological distress, especially for women. However, recent longitudinal research, reviewed in this chapter, questions these basic relationships. Recent studies show that though marriage is associated with improved mental health, these improvements are more modest than previously suggested and depend on other factors such as marital quality, race, and age. Cohabitors have higher psychological well-being than the single, though not as high as the married. Longitudinal studies suggest no gender difference in the average mental health benefit associated with transition into marriage. Recent research confirms that parenthood increases psychological distress, especially for young single parents. Future research should use an intersectionality framework to examine how multiple stratification systems work together to influence the relationship between family status and mental health.
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Violence between intimate partners transcends culture and time. This chapter synthesizes several fronts of evolutionary-based research in order to describe and explain the primary causes of female-directed violence. Sexual conflict between men and women suggests that the sexes have unique avenues to reproductive success. Women's mating strategies, coupled with men's inability to ensure that the offspring they invest in are genetically their own, generated selective pressures for men to evolve tactics to eliminate threats to valued relationships. This chapter details how some of these tactics-executed by psychological mechanisms-lead to the violence, rape, and homicide observed among intimate partners. Using evolutionary theory, we seek to provide insight on ultimate explanations for intimate partner violence. Through this and through efforts made to understand proximate explanations of men's violence against women, we hope to contribute to a complete understanding of men's use of aggression in the relationships they value most.
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