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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 128-132

Intimate partner violence among college students without disabilities and college students with disabilities: An exploratory study


Department of Applied Health Sciences, Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky, USA

Date of Submission07-Oct-2016
Date of Acceptance12-Jun-2016
Date of Web Publication19-Dec-2016

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Miranda Sue Terry
101K, South Oakley Applied Science Building, Murray, Kentucky
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2468-838X.196104

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  Abstract 

Aims: The purpose of this exploratory research study was to examine the gender differences and role of disability among college students experienced intimate partner violence. The research project sought to address two questions: (1) are there gender differences? and (2) are there differences between people with disabilities and people without disabilities?
Setting and Design: A large university in the Midwest, United States of America. A quantitative research design was used.
Materials and Methods: This research project used a quantitative research design using a packet consisting of abuse screening surveys: Abuse Assessment Screen-Disability (AAS-D) and Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2).
Statistical analysis used: The quantitative surveys were analyzed using IBM SPSS version 22.0. Data input used a double entry method where the investigator entered the data into one SPSS sheet, an assistant entered the data into a separate SPSS sheet, and then the sheets were merged to check for discrepancies. The hypotheses were addressed using inferential statistics, such as Likelihood Ratio.
Results: The results of this study indicate that there were no statistical differences between the rates at which men and women experience abuse. These results are not similar to previous literature. Other findings of this study indicate that people with disabilities experience similar rates of abuse as people without disabilities. These findings are similar to previous literature.
Conclusions: Due to the small number of participants with disabilities, the statistical findings showed trends. A larger scale study would need to be conducted to draw any conclusions statistically. These trends should provide a shift in society and its views on who is affected by intimate partner violence and ensure everyone who is experiencing abuse has options to leave the relationship and has resources available and accessible to them.

Keywords: Americans with Disabilities Act, intimate partner violence, violence against men, violence against persons with disabilities, Violence Against Women Act


How to cite this article:
Terry MS. Intimate partner violence among college students without disabilities and college students with disabilities: An exploratory study. BLDE Univ J Health Sci 2016;1:128-32

How to cite this URL:
Terry MS. Intimate partner violence among college students without disabilities and college students with disabilities: An exploratory study. BLDE Univ J Health Sci [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 May 25];1:128-32. Available from: http://www.bldeujournalhs.in/text.asp?2016/1/2/128/196104

Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence, is defined as any act of violence perpetrated by a current or former romantic partner.[1] Most research in this area focuses on women who have experienced IPV, with little information on men or people with disabilities. This paper is an exploratory study of IPV among college students. This study not only compared men and women in the context of IPV but also looked at two subgroups : men with disabilities and women with disabilities.


  Materials and Methods Top


Institutional Review Board's approval from the university was received before the research took place. The informed consent explained that a breach of confidentiality would take place immediately if a participant discloses suicidal/homicidal intent, as the researcher would get the participant in contact with a clinical psychologist for assistance. Illinois law does not require adult-to-adult domestic violence to be reported; however, a breach in confidentiality would also take place if abuse of a minor is disclosed.

This research paper examined if there were differences between groups (men, women, men with disabilities, women with disabilities) based on gender. Research question: Among those that experienced abuse, are there differences based on gender? Based on previous literature, the first hypothesis of this study is that there will be abuse prevalence rate differences among men and women.

This research paper also examined if there were differences between groups (men, women, men with disabilities, women with disabilities) based on disability. Research question: Among those that experienced abuse, are there differences between people with disabilities and people without disabilities? Based on previous literature, the second hypothesis of this study is that there will be abuse prevalence rate differences among people with disabilities and people without disabilities.

This research study took place at a large university in the Midwest. A university setting was selected for data collection as "approximately 32% of college students are victims of domestic violence."[2] Since this research study was interested in surveying students with disabilities, the campus provided the ideal recruitment environment as it is one of the most accessible campuses in the nation.[3] Due to its accessibility and other disability-friendly resources, this university has a sizable and diverse disabled population.[3] This university enrolled 42,600 students, in which 46% were women and 1200 students (about 2.8% of the student population) were served by the university's disability services office.[3] A majority of these students have a physical disability.

Participants were recruited through two different recruitment strategies : Large general education lecture classes and the disability services office staff, resulting in a total of 205 participants being recruited. The criteria for participation were students who were at least 18 years who could speak and understand English. The volunteer participants were not remunerated. Recruitment through personal contact with the disability services office staff yielded 30 (14.6%) participants with disabilities, 12 (5.9%) were women, of the overall 205 participants.

The gender breakdown of the participants was 112 (54.6%) female participants and 87 (42.4%) male participants, while others did not label their gender or did not answer this question. The average age of the participants was 19.9 years of age, with 75.1% being a sophomore, junior, or senior at the time of recruitment. The race/ethnicity of the participants was diverse: 138 (67.3%) were Caucasian, 21 (10.2%) were Hispanic/Latino, 19 (9.3%) were African American/Black, 19 (9.3%) were Asian, 2 (1.0%) were American Indian/Alaska Native, 1 (0.5%) was Pacific Islander, and 5 (2.4%) classified as others: Palestinian, Burmese/Chinese, European, Indian, and Thaian. Six individuals identified with two racial/ethnic groups; for statistical purposes, the individuals were only counted once with the first racial/ethnic group they selected.

The dating status of the participants had a breakdown of 65 (31.7%) participants who are currently in a dating relationship, 107 (52.2%) participants who are not currently in a dating relationship, 22 (10.7%) participants who are openly dating, 7 (3.4%) participants who have never been in a romantic relationship, and 4 (2.0%) participants who classified their dating relationship as not fitting in one of the previously mentioned categories, with the most common explanation of the relationship being "talking/seeing each other" or "dating one person but not romantic." There was a range between 0 and 23 on the participant's number of intimate partners, with a majority having (had) one intimate partner (42.4%).

Sexual orientation has a breakdown of 190 (92.7%) reported being heterosexual/straight, 2 (1.0%) reported being gay/lesbian, 3 (1.5%) reported being bisexual, 3 (1.5%) reported not labeling their sexuality, 1 (0.5%) reported questioning their sexual orientation, and 6 (2.9%) did not report their sexual orientation.

This research project used a quantitative research design using a packet consisting of abuse screening surveys: Abuse Assessment Screen-Disability (AAS-D) and Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2). It was important to include the AAS-D in the abuse screening surveys to capture disability-related abuse. Data collection took place in-person and questionnaire packets were administered by the investigator in a university office or classroom as part of a large general education lecture class from November 15, 2012, to February 15, 2013. The survey packet was estimated to take between 20 and 60 min to complete, with a majority of the participants being observed submitting the survey packets in 20 min. The greatest risk of loss of confidentiality was associated with research participation. To safeguard the privacy of the participant data (i.e., completed questionnaire packets), participants were assigned unique numbers that were used to identify their data. A campus and community resources list was given to the participants after they submitted their survey, which includes a variety of referrals, rather than just abuse-related resources. No names were written on the questionnaire packets.

Completed questionnaire packets were kept in a locked file cabinet in a university office. Computer files (i.e., completed questionnaire packets) were password protected. Names of participants and any names of those they indicate have abused them were deleted from questionnaire packets; however, the relationship to the participant (e.g., intimate partner, personal assistant) was documented as that is an aspect being explored in this research project.

The abuse screening tools (AAS-D, CTS2) were administered together as each has attributes not found in the others. The AAS-D only screens for physical and sexual abuse as well as disability-related abuse, which is a component not measured by the other screening tool, with a timeframe of within the past year. The CTS2 is one of the most commonly used screening tools in regard to IPV that added an additional level of reliability and validity as it screens for the three most common types of abuse but does not screen for disability-related abuse, with two timeframes : Within the past year and this has happened. Therefore, the limitation of each is the strength of the other providing an overall more accurate screening method to determine the prevalence of the different types of abuse occurring on campus.

The screening tool, AAS-D, is utilized to screen for abuse among women with disabilities. The AAS-D is a four-question assessment. The first two questions were taken directly from the AAS, while the last two questions were developed to address disability-specific abuse based on a large-scale, national qualitative interviews study. A study conducted by McFarlane, Hughes, Nosek, Groff, Swedlend, and Mullen (2001) utilizing only the first two questions, which addresses physical and sexual abuse, found that out of 511 women with physical disabilities aged 18-64 years, the prevalence rate was 7.8%; however, when incorporating the disability-specific questions, the prevalence rate increased from 2% to a total of 9.8%.[4] Another significant finding of this study was that the perpetrator of disability-related abuse "was attributed almost equally to an intimate partner, a care provider, or a health-care professional."[4] This research project sought to obtain more information in the intimate partner relationship domain.

Limitations of this screening tool are that it has a very limited target population of women with physical disabilities and that the questions tend to focus solely on physical and sexual abuse, leaving emotional abuse unscreened. This has important implications as emotional abuse occurs the most often; therefore, not screening for it underrepresents the prevalence of this type of abuse. In addition, evidence suggests that emotional abuse almost always accompanies physical abuse.[5]

The CTS2 is one of the best-known and most commonly used abuse screening tools, with "reliability ranging from 0.79 to 0.95."[6] The CTS2 has well-established psychometric properties, including cross-cultural reliability and validity.[7] The CTS2 consists of 78-item questionnaire that evaluates both individual's behavior in the relationship. The CTS2 measures the three common types of abuse : Emotional, physical, and sexual, as well as the use of negotiation and injuries. The listing of violent acts is a strength of this abuse screening tool as the labeling of experiences as abuse may not occur among the victims. Another strength of the CTS2 is that it "uses previously validated population scores for female to male psychological aggression and physical assault."[8]

Another strength of this screening tool is its use of a Likert scale with continuous variable, which provides a more concrete, objective amount of the abusive acts encountered, unlike that subjectivity of terms such as "rarely" or "frequently," which may be defined differently from person to person resulting in a less concrete, accurate representation of the woman's situation. One limitation of the CTS is that it was developed using heterosexual couples excluding those who may experience abuse in the same-sex relationships. Another limitation is that it is unclear if people with disabilities were included in its development. If people with disabilities were not included in its development, then a subpopulation of this world's population is excluded, silencing their experiences, resulting in disability-specific abuse not being captured.


  Results Top


The purpose of this research project was to examine the gender differences and role of disability among those that have experienced abuse. The quantitative surveys were analyzed using SPSS 22.0 (IBM SPSS Statistical Package version 22.0). Data input used a double-entry method where the investigator entered the data into one SPSS sheet, an assistant entered the data into a separate SPSS sheet, and then the sheets were merged to check for discrepancies. The hypotheses were addressed using inferential statistics. Due to the small number of participants with disabilities, the statistical findings will be stated as showing trends. A large-scale study would need to be conducted to draw any conclusions statistically. The CTS2 variables were recorded to examine the two time points of abuse - has that type of abuse ever occurred and has that type of abuse happened within the past year. The latter prevalence rate was of particular importance as a majority of participants (75.1%) were sophomores, juniors, and seniors, meaning that more than likely the abuse had occurred while the participant was a student at this university.

Hypothesis 1: Gender differences

The first hypothesis stated that there will be differences between men and women who experience abuse. However, the results of this study found that there are no statistical differences between genders. This study found that men and women experienced similar rates of abuse. Chi-square tests were used to examine the differences between men and women among the different abuse screening tools.

Hypothesis 2: Role of disability

The second hypothesis stated that there will be differences between people with disabilities and people without disabilities who experience abuse. After analyzing the results, people with disabilities experience similar rates of abuse as people without disabilities. These results are similar to previous findings by Cramer et al.[9] Chi-square tests were used to examine the differences between people with disabilities and people without disabilities among the different abuse screening tools. Statistical analysis showed that there was a difference between the rate of emotional abuse experienced by people without disabilities and people with disabilities in their lifetime (χ2 [1, n = 205] = 14.83, P = 0.000), suggesting that people without disabilities experienced emotional abuse more than people with disabilities in their lifetime as screened by the CTS2. While statistical analysis showed a significant difference, due to the small sample size of people with disabilities, no statistical inferences can be made. Statistical analysis showed there was a difference between the rate of emotional abuse experienced by people without disabilities and people with disabilities within the past year (c2 (1, N = 205) = 12.09, P = 0.001), suggesting that people without disabilities experienced emotional abuse more than people with disabilities within the past year as screened by the CTS2.

There were statistical differences between the rates yielded from the sexual abuse items on the CTS2 of sexual abuse experienced within the past year by men without disabilities compared to men with disabilities (χ2 [1, n = 87] = 4.64, P = 0.031). While statistical analysis showed a significant difference, due to the small sample size of men with disabilities, no statistical inferences can be made. There were no significant differences between the rates found by the sexual abuse items of the CTS2 of men with disabilities and men without disabilities who have ever experienced sexual abuse. There was a statistical difference between the rate of emotional abuse experienced by men without disabilities and men with disabilities in their lifetime (χ2 [1, n = 87] = 8.02, P 0.005), suggesting that men without disabilities experienced emotional abuse more than men with disabilities in their lifetime. While statistical analysis showed a significant difference, due to the small sample size of men with disabilities, no statistical inferences can be made. There was a statistical difference between the rate of emotional abuse experienced by men without disabilities and men with disabilities within the past year (χ2 [1, n = 87] = 8.14, P = 0.004), suggesting that men without disabilities experienced emotional abuse more than men with disabilities in the past year. While statistical analysis showed a significant difference, due to the small sample size of men with disabilities, no statistical inferences can be made. These significant levels were taken from the likelihood ratio reported Chi-square test results due to the small sample sizes.

There was a significant difference between the rate of emotional abuse experienced by women without disabilities and women with disabilities in their lifetime (χ2 [1, n = 112] = 5.68, P = 0.017), suggesting that women without disabilities experienced emotional abuse more than women with disabilities in their lifetime. While statistical analysis showed a significant difference, due to the small sample size of people with disabilities, no statistical inferences can be made. These significant levels were taken from the likelihood ratio reported Chi-square test results due to the small sample sizes.


  Discussion Top


The United States is considered a pioneer for its policies on violence against women.[10] However, there still is more work to be done to eliminate violence against men and two subgroups of the population : Women with disabilities and men with disabilities. Protections and services need to be extended to all individuals who experience IPV. While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers guidelines to make services available to people with disabilities, the lack of enforcement is an issue, in addition, there is a lack of education to make services, such as domestic violence services, accessible to people with disabilities. A recommendation by Lund not only calls for improved accessibility but also an increase in cross-collaborations between domestic violence services and disability services organizations.[11]

If we expand the definitions of abuse to encompass disability-related abuse, it would be a step in the right direction to provide protections and services to people with disabilities who experience IPV. It would also be a way to break down barriers to seeking abuse-related community resources as the definitions would clearly relate to the abuse that people with disabilities experience.[12] Violence against people with disabilities should not be treated like a special issue, which is echoing a statement by Saxton et al.[13]

Both of these aspects, increasing accessibility of domestic violence resources and expanding definitions, are important as the results show that people with disabilities are experience similar rates of abuse as people without disabilities. Therefore, it is important that community resources be available and accessible to everyone who is experiencing abuse regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability status, etc. A future aspect of this research project will need to research how many community resources are accessible to people with disabilities with the purpose to raise more awareness to increase accessibility to these resources to all.

This study was limited by the small amount of people with disabilities recruited to participate. Therefore, it cannot be generalized to the general population. However, the results can be used to gain insight on an issue that is a trend not only on this college campus, but other college campuses. The results also support previous research showing the people with disabilities experience abuse at similar rates as people without disabilities. The results also support that men can be victims of IPV too and need to have gender-based resources available to them.

Future research can build from this study in numerous ways. A large-scale study should be conducted in order for statistical inferences to be made and the findings can be generalized. This study also shows there are gaps that need to be addressed in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and while women do experience abuse, men have been shown to experience abuse at similar rates; therefore, this policy is lacking in its protections of the American people. In addition, people with disabilities are not accommodated very well under the VAWA. The USA policymakers need to find ways to better enforce the ADA and VAWA, so everyone who is experiencing abuse has options to leave that relationship and has resources available and accessible to them.


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, anyone can experience IPV. Policies need to be strengthened or created to protect those who are in this situation. One of the recommendations is to have domestic violence shelters available for men experiencing intimate partner violence. Another recommendation is to ensure that domestic violence shelters are accessible to people with disabilities.

As this research was conducted on a college campus, it is important that campus communities have resources available for men experiencing IPV and for people with disabilities experiencing IPV. While colleges are required to provide training on sexual assault reporting mandates, most scenarios include people without disabilities and little scenarios about men being the victim. As a way to shift the perception that anyone can experience IPV, the training materials need to be revised to be representative of the population. College campuses should also analyze their abuse resources to assure accessibility for people with disabilities, such as having information in alternative formats and having training sessions on how to recognize IPV for specific disabilities.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Centers for Disease Control. Intimate Partner Violence. Available from: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/intimatepartnerviolence/index.html. [Last retrieved on 2015 Jan 16].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Feminist Majority Foundation. Violence Against Women on College Campuses. Available from: http://www.feministcampus.org/fmla/printable-materials/v-day05/Violence_Against_Women.pdf. [Last retrieved on 2012 Feb 22].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Facts 2010-2011: Illinois by the Numbers. Available from: http://www.illinois.edu/about/overview/facts/facts.html. [Last retrieved on 2012 Mar 11].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
McFarlane J, Hughes RB, Nosek MA, Groff JY, Swedlend N, Dolan Mullen P. Abuse assessment screen-disability (AAS-D): Measuring frequency, type, and perpetrator of abuse toward women with physical disabilities. J Womens Health Gend Based Med 2001;10:861-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Tolman RM. The validation of the psychological maltreatment of women inventory. Violence Vict 1999;14:25-37.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Straus MA, Hamby SL, Boney-McCoy S, Sugarman DB. The revised conflict tactics scale (CTS2): Development and preliminary psychometric data. J Fam Issues 1996;17:283-316.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Straus MA. Cross-cultural reliability and validity of the revised conflict tactics scales: A study of university dating couples in 17 nations. Cross Cult Res 2004;37:1-26.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
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Mills TJ, Avegno JL, Haydel MJ. Male victims of partner violence : p0 revalence and accuracy of screening tools. J Emerg Med 2006;31:447-52.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
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Cramer EP, Gilson SF, DePoy E. Women with disabilities and experiences of abuse. Women Girls Soc Environ 2003;7:183-99.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
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Postmus JL, Hahn SA. Comparing the policy response to violence against women in the USA and South Korea. Int Soc Work 2007;50:770-82.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Lund EM. Community-based services and interventions for adults with disabilities who have experienced interpersonal violence : a0 review of the literature. Trauma Violence Abuse 2011;12:171-82.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence and Disabilities. Available from: http://www.leanonus.org/images/Domestic_Violence_and_Disabilities.pdf. [Last retrieved on 2012 Jan 28].  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Saxton M, Curry MA, Powers LE, Maley S, Eckels K, Gross J. Bring my scooter so I can leave you: A study of disabled women handling abuse by personal assistance providers. Violence Against Women 2001;7:393-417.  Back to cited text no. 13
    




 

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