Intimate partner violence against young women: prevalence and associated factors in Europe

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Abstract

Background

The magnitude of intimate partner violence (IPV) in young women is a source of increasing concern. The prevalence of IPV has not been analysed in Europe as a whole. The objective was to assess the prevalence and main characteristics of experiencing physical and/or sexual and psychological-only IPV among young women in the European Union and to identify individual and contextual associated risk factors.

Methods

We analysed a cross-sectional subsample of 5976 ever-partnered women aged 18–29 years from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Violence Against Women Survey, 2012. The main outcomes were current physical and/or sexual IPV and lifetime psychological-only IPV. Risk factors were assessed by the prevalence ratio (PR) from multilevel Poisson regression models.

Results

Current prevalence of physical and/or sexual IPV was 6.1%, lifetime prevalence of psychological-only IPV was 28.7%. Having suffered physical and/or sexual abuse by an adult before age 15 was the strongest risk factor for IPV (PR: 2.9 for physical and/or sexual IPV, PR: 1.5 for psychological-only IPV). Other individual risk factors were: perceived major difficulties in living within their household income (PR: 2.6), having children (PR: 1.8) and age 18–24 years (PR: 1.5) for physical/sexual IPV and immigration background for psychological-only IPV (PR: 1.4). Living in countries with a higher prevalence of binge drinking or early school dropout was positively associated with IPV.

Conclusions

Findings show that the fight against violence in young women should consider individual characteristics, childhood experiences of abuse and also structural interventions including reduction of alcohol consumption and improvement in the education-related indicators.

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