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For Young Women, 'Controlling' Partner Often Abusive, Too

THURSDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Young women whose intimate partners try to control them are at increased risk for physical and sexual domestic violence, a new study finds.

It included more than 600 women aged 15 to 24 who were patients at a reproductive health center. Sixty-eight percent reported that a partner exhibited controlling behavior.

Of those women, 38 percent said they experienced controlling behavior only. But another 11 percent reported experiencing controlling behavior plus physical abuse, 10 percent reported controlling behavior and sexual violence, and nearly 9 percent reported having been victims of all forms of relationship violence.

Women were more likely to experience a higher number of episodes of controlling behavior if they were aged 15 to 18, Hispanic, had been exposed to domestic violence during childhood, had been pregnant at least once, had suffered recent physical or sexual violence, and felt uncomfortable asking a male partner to use a condom.

The types of controlling behavior reported by the women included: being expected to ask a partner's permission before seeking health care (3.7 percent); having contact with their family restricted (6.3 percent); being ignored or treated indifferently by a partner (24.7 percent); and having a partner try to prevent them from seeing friends (26.5 percent).

"These data demonstrate the high frequency of controlling behaviors in the relationships of adolescents and young adults," concluded Dr. Marina Catallozzi of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City and colleagues.

"In addition, this awareness of the high rates of controlling behavior and the overlap with relationship violence, particularly for young people, may affect how they view health care provider-based screening and how honestly they might answer screening questions," they said.

Since teens and young women may not be comfortable disclosing such information, "carefully crafted, repeated, and novel screening to improve identification, referral and treatment" is needed, the authors wrote.

The study is published in the April issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

More information

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has more about domestic violence.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, April 4, 2011

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