Gender-based power imbalances are perhaps the most compelling underlying explanation for intimate partner violence (IPV) among women in sub-Saharan Africa.
Gender-based power imbalances are perhaps the most compelling underlying explanation for intimate partner violence (IPV) among women in sub-Saharan Africa. However, an overemphasis on female victimization results in an incomplete understanding of men's experiences as victims and the broader dyadic context in which violence occurs. This study examines the role of three domains of relationship power (power resources, processes, and outcomes) on sexual and physical IPV victimization in a unique sample of 466 young couples from Malawi. Two power resources were studied, namely, income and education level. Power processes were captured with a measure of couple communication and collaboration called unity. Power outcomes included a measure of relationship dominance (male dominated or female-dominated/egalitarian). Multilevel logistic regression using the Actor Partner Interpersonal Model framework was used to test whether respondent and partner data were predictive of IPV. The findings show that unity and male dominance were salient power factors that influenced young people's risk for sexual IPV. Unity had a stronger protective effect on sexual IPV for women than for men. Involvement in a male-dominated relationship increased the risk of sexual IPV for women, but decreased the risk for men. The findings also showed that education level and unity were protective against physical IPV for both men and women. Contrary to what was expected, partner data did not play a role in the respondent's experience of IPV. The consistency of these findings with the literature, theory, and study limitations are discussed. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage.