women's drinking habits could provide hints about their risk of being in a
violent relationship, a new study suggests. Men who regularly drank at parties
at their friends' houses were more likely to be violent toward their partners,
On the other hand, women were more violent when their
husbands and boyfriends frequently drank at home. What might explain those
patterns still isn't clear, lead researcher Christina Mari, of the University
of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, wrote in an
email. "Perhaps," she said, "men who drink frequently at parties
are surrounded by others who share more permissive norms about (intimate
partner violence), and they get riled up while at the party, then go home and
hit their wife."
The study couldn't show whether people were under the
influence when they acted violently, however. Mair and her colleagues
interviewed more than 1 500 married or cohabiting opposite-sex couples in
They asked each partner separately about drinking habits over the
previous year and about instances of physical, sexual or psychological harm in
the relationship. About six percent of couples reported male-to-female partner
violence and close to 10% reported female-to-male violence.
Women 85% of victims
men who drank often were more likely to be violent toward their partners and to
be victims of violence. Women who drank large amounts of alcohol in public
places were also more likely to be violent. The results, published in
Addiction, are a reanalysis of data released last year by the same group in the
Journal of the Study of Alcohol and Drugs. Each year, millions of Americans are
victims of intimate partner violence, or IPV. Women account for about 85% of victims, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
deal of research over the past few decades has established that alcohol use is
a contributing cause of intimate partner violence," Dominic Parrott, a
psychologist at Georgia State University in Atlanta, said. Kathryn Graham, a
senior scientist for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto,
said the new findings are difficult to interpret.
"It is an interesting
question whether certain drinking contexts have higher risk of IPV, over and
above how much alcohol is consumed in these contexts," she told Reuters
Health. But the data do not indicate how much of the partner violence actually
involved drinking, said Graham, who wasn't part of the research team.
is important to understand that data from this one study probably aren't
sufficient to change our prevention or treatment efforts to reduce
alcohol-related intimate partner violence," Parrott, who also wasn't
involved in the new research, told Reuters Health. He said if future research
replicates these findings, the collective data could be used for prevention.
For example, people who want to drink alcohol could be encouraged to seek out
low-risk contexts rather than high-risk contexts, Parrott said.