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Violence in College Dating Linked to Alcohol Consumption

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According to recent research published by the American Psychological Association, the risk of violence, both physical and non-physical, between intimate partners in college relationships is increased when alcohol has been consumed. The study, undertaken recently by Todd M. Moore, Sara R. Elkins, James K. McNulty, Aaron J. Kivisto, and Vanessa A. Handsel, all of the University of Tennessee, set out to assess "the temporal relationship between alcohol use and intimate partner violence perpetration" amongst college students.

A sample of 184 undergraduate students at the University of Tennessee who were currently in a dating relationship for at least one month prior to the beginning of the study were given electronic diaries that they were instructed to use at a set time each day. The students answered questions each day regarding their alcohol and drug use and any instances of face-to-face intimate partner violence, both physical and non-physical. Prior to the start of the study, all of the participating students completed thorough surveys including demographic information, as well as information related to their satisfaction with their relationship, existence of depression, anti-social characteristics, post-traumatic stress disorder, and their past history with intimate partner violence.

The results of the study are concerning. Amongst all participants, the odds of perpetrating psychological aggression were 2.19 times greater when participants had drank that day. Likewise, the odds of perpetrating physical aggression were 3.64 times greater on drinking days. The amount of alcohol consumed was also proven to be a factor. According to the study, "each additional drink consumed was associated with 1.16 to 1.13 greater odds of psychological and physical aggression, respectively."

The study also assessed how these trends relate to the gender of the perpetrator. Disturbingly, these results were rather skewed. Their findings showed that "men evidenced 7.03 greater odds of engaging in psychological aggression on drinking days, whereas women had only 1.60 greater odds of engaging in psychological aggression" when alcohol was consumed prior to the violence.

The results of this study should be eye opening to all college students, regardless of whether or not they have been affected by intimate partner violence or an abusive relationship as either a perpetrator or victim. Of those surveyed, 44% reported having perpetrated at least one act of psychological aggression, and 15.2% reported having perpetrated at least one act of physical assault. The prevalence of intimate partner violence demonstrated by this study, and the way in which alcohol tends to act as a stimulus for violence to occur, warrants inquiry into how intervention and prevention programs can be installed or improved to make college students more aware of the danger drinking poses on violence in intimate relationships.



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