Intimate Partner Violence in Same-Sex Male Couples

Nearly half of same-sex male couples in a recent study reported experiencing any form of intimate partner violence (IPV).

IPV has primarily been associated with women in heterosexual relationships, but this study demonstrates the importance of studying IPV in other kinds of relationships. The study, published in the American Journal of of Men’s Health, measured five types of IPV: physical and sexual, emotional, controlling, monitoring, and HIV-related IPV. Each member of the couple took surveys independently, reporting demographic information, factors potentially associated with IPV, and experience and perpetration of IPV in their current relationship.

Of the 320 participants, 45.6% of participants reported experiencing IPV of any kind in the past year. Differences between partners on a love scale, which measured intimacy, passion, and commitment, and differences in reports of internalized homophobia had a positive association with the IPV outcomes, as well as both partners reporting polydrug use. The authors use a minority stress model to explain these associations, noting that the negative societal attitudes faced by social minority groups like the LGBT community can contribute to stressors; this can look like discrimination, internalized homophobia, and expectations of rejection, which can in turn influence rates of IPV.

The authors note that this research has important public health implications. IPV in same-sex male couples can be associated with risky sexual behaviors, indicating a need for “developing and testing culturally sensitive prevention intervention programs.” More research is needed to understand the factors that are causally related to IPV so that better interventions can be developed. In a WebMD report on the study, one of the authors noted that health care providers don’t typically ask male couples about domestic abuse–but this research demonstrates that they should start.

You can access the full text of the study in the American Journal of Men’s Health here: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1557988318774243

You can read the WebMD report here: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20180716/study-nearly-half-of-gay-men-face-domestic-violence