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Union Status, Union Dissolution, and Intimate Partner Violence: Investigating Johnson’s Typology Among Heterosexual Dating, Cohabiting, and Married Couples

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Violence Volume: Online Dated: 2022
Mick Cunningham; Kristin L. Anderson
Date Published

This study uses the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Study (NISVS) to examine patterns of intimate terrorism (IT) and situational couple violence (SCV) in heterosexual relationships.


 Analyses in this study confirm the importance of assessing intimate terrorism (IT) in former relationships due to the selectivity of current relationships out of violence. The findings suggest that studies focusing on current unions substantially overestimate gender symmetry in IT victimization. The study explores patterns of intimate terrorism (IT) and situational couple violence (SCV) among people in heterosexual dating, cohabiting, and married relationships. The analysis examines differences in victimization for current and former relationships and gender differences in the association between union form and violence types. The study also examines the associations between IT, SCV, and post-breakup violence. Analyses are conducted using the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Study (NISVS). The dataset includes information about a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. The NISVS measures union status for respondents’ relationships with each IPV perpetrator they report. Analyses are conducted separately on current partner (n = 6071) and former partner unions (n = 15,426). Multivariate models show that for current partners, IT victimization is gender-symmetric and highest in informal relationships. When former partners are analyzed, IT victimization is highest among those who are cohabiting and is much more common among women than men. Analyses of violent perpetrators also show that IT victimization increases the risk of post-breakup violence for women and men. (Published Abstract Provided)