An Examination of Power Differentials and Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian Relationships

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Virginia Tech

Researchers investigating lesbian intimate partner violence (IPV) encourage a movement from the study of prevalence rates to the examination of the complexities of IPV in lesbian relationships (Ristock, 2003). The current study examined power differentials and their associations with reported physical and psychological violence in lesbian relationships. Additionally, the study sought to determine whether power differentials predict physical and psychological violence within the relationship. Secondary data analysis of the National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998) was used. Overall the sample (N = 80) was primarily White, high school graduates, with an average age of 30.

A preliminary exploratory factor analysis of a measure used in the NVAWS revealed two factors'jealousy and control tactics. These factor scores were used in later analyses. Chi-square tests revealed no significant relationships between income, age, race, employment, health status, or education power differentials and the presence of physical and psychological violence (i.e., verbal attack). Significant associations were found between control tactics and age, as well as education differentials. Finally, significant associations were found between control tactics and psychological violence, as well as control tactics and jealousy. Multiple linear regressions(MLR) were used to determine which power differential discrepancy scores and factor scores(i.e., jealousy, control tactics [predictors]) could be used to predict physical and psychological violence (criteria). No significant predictions could be made for physical violence. Presence of jealousy and control tactics was found to be a highly significant predictor, accounting for 20% of the variance in psychological violence.

power differential, lesbian, intimate partner violence, conflict theory, resource theory