Intimate Partner Violence and Anal Intercourse In Young Adult Heterosexual Relationships

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Although intimate partner violence and anal intercourse are common in young adult relationships, few studies have examined whether these behaviors are associated with each other.


Data from 6,280 women aged 18–28 who took part in Wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health were used to examine the association between physical and sexual intimate partner violence and anal intercourse in 10,462 relationships. Multivariate hierarchical random effects models were used to adjust for the clustered survey design and for the multiple relationships reported per participant.


Physical violence occurred in 29% of relationships, sexual violence in 11% and anal intercourse in 14%. The odds that a couple had had anal intercourse were greater among relationships that included physical violence perpetrated by both partners or only by the woman than among nonviolent relationships (odds ratios, 1.7 and 1.9, respectively). The odds of anal intercourse were also elevated among sexually abusive relationships, although only if the woman was the sole victim or the sole perpetrator (1.3 and 2.0, respectively). In relationships that included anal intercourse, the odds of condom use were lower if the woman was a victim of physical violence than if no violence occurred (0.2). Sexual violence was not associated with condom use.


Women in physically violent relationships may be at increased risk for STDs because of their elevated exposure to unprotected anal intercourse. More information on the context surrounding anal intercourse and intimate partner violence is needed to understand the nuances of this association.

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