Protective Family Informal Social Control of Intimate Partner Violence in Beijing

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Objective: Despite ample qualitative and anecdotal evidence that informal social control by extended family members is elicited by and has an impact on intimate partner violence (IPV), quantitative research on this topic is largely absent. Likewise, the literature on coercive control is underdeveloped in East Asia. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationships between informal social control by family members, coercive control, and husbands’ IPV in a Chinese context. Method: Using data from a 3-stage cluster sample of 302 married and partnered Beijing women, we developed a 2-item measure of protective informal social control of IPV by adult family members. Both partial least squares and random effects regression models were used to evaluate hypotheses to guard against methodological artifacts. Results: Protective informal social control of IPV by adult family members was associated with significantly less IPV by the husband. Higher levels of protective informal social control of IPV were associated with a significantly weaker coercive control—IPV relationship for husbands’ IPV severity. Conclusion: The findings suggest that the protective/punitive distinction is a vital one for research on IPV. Moreover, findings indicate that highly controlling relationships are associated with less violence when protective control is present. Hence, interventions that boost protective control may help protect women against some of the most injurious, lethal forms of IPV.

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