Female-Directed Violence as a Form of Sexual Coercion in Humans (Homo sapiens)

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Abstract

Male-perpetrated female-directed violence (FDV) may be associated with greater sexual access to a female. Accordingly, FDV is expected to be associated with greater copulation frequency. Research on nonhuman primates affirms this hypothesis, but no previous research has investigated this relationship in humans (Homo sapiens). The current research tests the hypothesis that FDV is associated with in-pair copulation frequency and, thus, may function as a form of sexual coercion. It was predicted that men who perpetrate FDV will secure more in-pair copulations than men who do not perpetrate violence (Prediction 1a), and that average monthly rates of FDV would positively correlate with in-pair copulation frequency (Prediction 1b). Male participants (n = 355) completed a survey, reporting limited demographic information (e.g., age, relationship length), in-pair copulation frequency, and history of physical violence perpetration. As predicted, violent men secured more in-pair copulations, on average, than nonviolent men, and monthly rates of violence positively correlated with in-pair copulation frequency. In humans, as in nonhuman primates, FDV by males may facilitate greater sexual access to a female. We discuss the implications of the current research for an evolutionary perspective on partner violence, and draw on research on nonhuman primates to highlight profitable avenues of research on FDV in humans.

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