2The role of controlling behaviour in intimate partner violence and its health effects: a population based study from rural Vietnam

Krantz, Gunilla; Nguyen Dang Vung
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Studies in North America and other high-income regions support the distinction between extreme "intimate terrorism" and occasional "situational couple violence", defined conceptually in terms of the presence or absence of controlling behaviour in the violent member of the couple. Relatively little research has been conducted on the different forms intimate partner violence may take in low-income countries. The aim of this study was to investigate whether these expressions of intimate partner violence in one low-income country, Vietnam, adhere to patterns observed in western industrialised countries as well as to investigate the resulting health effects. Methods: This cross-sectional study collected structured interview data from 883 married women aged 17-60, using the Women's Health and Life Experiences questionnaire developed by WHO. Intimate partner violence was assessed by past-year experience of physical or sexual violence and control tactics were assessed using six items combined into a scale. Three different health parameters constituted the dependent variables. Bi- and multivariate analyses, including effect modification analyses, were performed. Results: Of the participants, 81 (9.2%) had been exposed to physical or sexual violence during the past 12 months; of these, 26 (32.1%) had been subjected to one or more controlling behaviours by their partners. The risk of ill health associated with combined exposure was elevated eight to 15 times, compared to a two-fourfold risk increase after exposure to only one of the behaviours, i.e. violent acts or control tactics. Conclusion: Physical or sexual violence combined with control tactics acted synergistically to worsen health in rural Vietnamese women. The occurrence of such violence calls for altered policies, increased research and implementation of preventive and curative strategies. The unacceptability of intimate partner violence as a part of normal Vietnamese family life must be recognised in the general debate.


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