Intimate partner violence is two times more likely to occur in two income households, compared to those where only one partner works, according to a new study.
Conducted by Sam Houston State University researchers Cortney A. Franklin, Ph.D., and doctoral student Tasha A. Menaker and supported by the Crime Victims’ Institute, the study looked at the impact of education levels and employment among heterosexual partners as it relates to domestic violence.
While the researchers found that differences in education levels appeared to have little influence, when both partners were working, intimate partner violence increased.
“When both male and females were employed, the odds of victimization were more than two times higher than when the male was the only breadwinner in the partnership, lending support to the idea that female employment may challenge male authority and power in a relationship,” said the researchers.
The study was based on telephone interviews with 303 women who identified themselves as either currently or recently in a serious romantic relationship.
Based on the Fourth Annual Texas Crime Victimization Survey, about 67 percent of these women, who ranged in age from 18 to 81, reported some form of physical or psychological victimization by their partner during the last two years. These included having something thrown at them; being pushed, grabbed or shoved; slapped, hit, kicked or bitten; or threatened with a gun or knife.
The study found that more than 60 percent of women in two-income couples reported victimization, while only 30 percent of women reported victimization in cases when only the male partner was employed.
“When women are home-bound through their role as domestic workers, they lack connections to co-workers and the social capital that is produced through those connections, in addition to wages, job prestige, resources, and thus, power. In turn, they must rely solely on their male partner for financial sustenance and can benefit from the distinction that his employment brings the couple,” the researchers noted in the study.
“Those women who work outside the home have access to these tangible and intangible assets, which may devalue or, in some cases, even undermine the contributions and provisions supplied by male-only employment.”
The study explored other factors that may contribute to intimate partner violence, including witnessing violence by a parent during childhood, accepting the use of violence in adult relationships, and experiencing relationship distress, such as problems generated by money, chores, social activities or sexual relations. The researchers found that distress in the relationship and witnessing intimate partner violence during childhood increased the odds of victimization.
Finally, the study found that Hispanic women were significantly less likely than white females to report intimate partner violence and that older women of all races and ethnicities were less likely to be victimized than younger women.
The researchers recommended that professionals who treat victims of intimate partner violence develop specific strategies to address these risk factors and cultural differences. They also suggested that professionals target youth who have witnessed violence during childhood with additional programming for better methods of conflict resolution among adults in intimate relationships.
The study is scheduled to be published in the journal Violence Against Women.
Source: Sam Houston State University