Comparing Violence Over the Life Span in Samples of Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Cohabitants

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Using data from a nationally representative telephone survey that was conducted from November 1995 to May 1996, this study compares lifetime experiences with violent victimization among men and women with a history of same-sex cohabitation and their counterparts with a history of marriage and/or opposite-sex cohabitation only. The study found that respondents who had lived with a same-sex intimate partner were significantly more likely than respondents who had married or lived with an opposite-sex partner only to have been: (a) raped as minors and adults; (b) physically assaulted as children by adult caretakers; and (c) physically assaulted as adults by all types of perpetrators, including intimate partners. The study also confirms previous reports that intimate partner violence is more prevalent among gay male couples than heterosexual couples. However, it contradicts reports that intimate partner violence is more prevalent among lesbian couples than heterosexual couples. Overall study findings suggest that intimate partner violence is perpetrated primarily by men, whether against same-sex or opposite-sex partners.

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