, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 177-186

Intimate Partner Violence and Monogamy among Women in Methadone Treatment

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It is now becoming clear how important it is to understand women’s HIV risk in the context of their sexual relationships with male partners, particularly among more vulnerable populations of women such as drug-involved women and women with physically abusive partners. Drawing from in-depth interviews with a sample of 38 ethnically diverse women, this study explores the meanings of monogamy and concurrent sexual partnerships in the relationships of women in methadone treatment with a history of physical abuse. Moreover, the ways in which having a history of intimate partner violence influences women’s desire and ability to insist on monogamy is addressed. The women’s narratives indicated that the majority valued monogamy and reported practicing it; however, many women were indifferent to this ideal or were unable to challenge non-monogamous partners for fear of severe reprisals. In addition, men’s suspicions about violations of monogamy on the part of the women often resulted in extreme violence.