Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 1133–1151 | Cite as

Sexual Aggression Experiences Among Male Victims of Physical Partner Violence: Prevalence, Severity, and Health Correlates for Male Victims and Their Children

  • Denise A. HinesEmail author
  • Emily M. Douglas
Original Paper


Although research has documented the prevalence and health correlates of sexual aggression among women who have experienced severe partner violence (PV), no research has documented the parallel issues among male victims of severe PV. Research also suggests that children of female victims of both physical and sexual PV have worse mental health than children of female victims of physical PV only, but no research has assessed the mental health of children whose fathers experienced both physical and sexual PV. We surveyed 611 men who experienced physical PV from their female partners and sought help. We assessed the types and extent of various forms of PV, the men’s mental and physical health, and the mental health of their oldest child. Results showed that almost half of the men experienced sexual aggression in their relationship, and 28 % severe sexual aggression. Increasing levels of severity of sexual aggression victimization was associated with greater prevalence and types of other forms of PV. In addition, greater levels of severity of sexual aggression victimization among the men was significantly associated with depression symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, physical health symptoms, and poor health, and attention deficit and affective symptoms among their children. These associations held after controlling for demographics and other violence and trauma exposure. Discussion focused on the importance of broadening our conceptualization of PV against men by women to include sexual aggression as well.


Sexual aggression Male victims Partner violence Domestic violence Child witnesses 



The project described was supported by Grant Number 1R15HD071635 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NICHD.


  1. Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/4-18 and 1991 Profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  2. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2001). Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms & profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families.Google Scholar
  3. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (n.d.-a). Manual for the ASEBA pre-school forms & profiles: An integrated systems of multi-informant assessment. Retrieved from
  4. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (n.d.-b). Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms & profiles: An integrated systems of multi-informant assessment. Retrieved from
  5. Addis, M. E., & Mahalik, J. R. (2003). Men, masculinity, and the contexts of help seeking. American Psychologist, 58, 5–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Anderson, P. B., & Savage, J. S. (2005). Social, legal, and institutional context of heterosexual aggression by college women. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 6, 130–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bennice, J. A., & Resick, P. A. (2003). Marital rape history, research, and practice. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 4, 228–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bennice, J. A., Resick, P. A., Mechanic, M., & Astin, M. (2003). The relative effects of intimate partner physical and sexual violence on post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology. Violence and Victims, 18, 87–94.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding, M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., … Stevens, M. R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 summary report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Google Scholar
  10. Blanchard, E. B., Jones-Alexander, J. B., Buckley, T. C., & Forneris, C. A. (1996). Psychometric properties of the PTSD checklist (PCL). Behaviour Research and Therapy, 34, 669–673.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell, J. C. (1989). Women’s response to sexual abuse in intimate relationships. Health Care for Women International, 10, 335–346.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Campbell, J. C., & Soeken, K. L. (1999). Forced sex and intimate partner violence effects on women’s risk and women’s health. Violence Against Women, 5, 1017–1035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Campbell, J. C., Webster, D., Koziol-McLain, J., Block, C., Campbell, D., Curry, M. A., … Laughon, K. (2003). Risk factors for femicide in abusive relationships: Results from a multisite case control study. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 1089–1097.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, S., & Hoberman, H. M. (1983). Positive events and social supports as buffers of life change stress. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 13, 99–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cook, P. W., & Hodo, T. L. (2013). When women sexually abuse men: The hidden side of rape, stalking, harassment, and sexual assault. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.Google Scholar
  16. Craig Shea, M. E. (1998). When the tables are turned: Verbal sexual coercion among college women. In P. B. Anderson & C. Struckman-Johnson (Eds.), Sexually aggressive women: Current perspectives and controversies (pp. 94–104). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dutton, M. A. (2009). Pathways linking intimate partner violence and posttraumatic disorder. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 10, 211–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ehrensaft, M. K., Moffitt, T. E., & Caspi, A. (2004). Clinically abusive relationships in an unselected birth cohort: Men’s and women’s participation and developmental antecedents. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 113, 258–271.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Felson, R. B. (2002). Violence and gender reexamined. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferdinand, R. F. (2008). Validity of the CBCL/YSR DSM-IV scales anxiety problems and affective problems. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 22, 126–134.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Follingstad, D. R., & Rogers, M. J. (2013). Validity concerns in the measurement of women’s and men’s report of intimate partner violence. Sex Roles, 69, 149–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. George, M. J. (2003). Invisible touch. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 8, 23–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Giles-Sims, J. (1983). Wife battering: A systems theory approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Golding, J. M. (1999). Intimate partner violence as a risk factor for mental disorders: A meta-analysis. Journal of Family Violence, 14, 99–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hines, D. A. (2007). Predictors of sexual coercion against women and men: A multilevel, multinational study of university students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 403–422.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hines, D. A., Armstrong, J. L., Reed, K. P., & Cameron, A. Y. (2012). Gender differences in sexual assault victimization among college students. Violence and Victims, 27, 922–940.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2010a). Intimate terrorism by women towards men: Does it exist? Journal of Aggression, Conflict, and Peace Research, 2, 36–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2010b). A closer look at men who sustain intimate terrorism by women. Partner Abuse, 1, 286–313.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2011). Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in men who sustain intimate partner violence: A study of helpseeking and community samples. Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 12, 112–127.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2012). Alcohol and drug abuse in men who sustain intimate partner violence. Aggressive Behavior, 38, 31–46.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. Hines, D. A., & Douglas, E. M. (2013). Predicting potentially life-threatening partner violence by women toward men: A preliminary analysis. Violence and Victims, 28, 751–771.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Hines, D. A., Douglas, E. M., & Berger, J. L. (2014). A self-report measure of legal and administrative aggression within intimate relationships. Aggressive Behavior. doi: 10.1002/ab.21540.
  33. Hines, D. A., & Saudino, K. J. (2003). Gender differences in psychological, physical, and sexual aggression among college students using the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales. Violence and Victims, 18, 197–218.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Johnson, H. (1995). Risk factors associated with non-lethal violence against women by marital partners. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.Google Scholar
  35. Johnson, M. P. (2006). Conflict and control: Gender symmetry and asymmetry in domestic violence. Violence Against Women, 12, 1003–1018.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Kantor, G. K., Holt, M. K., Mebert, C. J., Straus, M. A., Drach, K. M., Ricci, L. R., … Brown, W. (2004). Development and preliminary psychometric properties of the Multidimensional Neglectful Behavior Scale-Child Report. Child Maltreatment, 9, 409–428.Google Scholar
  37. Krebs, C. P., Lindquist, C. H., Warner, T. D., Fisher, B. S., & Martin, S. L. (2007). The Campus Sexual Assault Study. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  38. Lang, A. J., Laffaye, C., Satz, L. E., Dresselhaus, T. R., & Stein, M. B. (2003). Sensitivity and specificity of the PTSD checklist for detecting PTSD in female veterans in primary care. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 257–264.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Laroche, D. (2005). Aspects of the context and consequences of domestic violence—Situational couple violence and intimate terrorism in Canada in 1999. Quebec: Institut de la statistique du Quebec.Google Scholar
  40. Lauterbach, D., & Vrana, S. (1996). Three studies on the reliability and validity of a self-report measure of posttraumatic stress disorder. Assessment, 3, 17–25.Google Scholar
  41. Logan, T., Cole, J. R., & Shannon, L. A. (2007). A mixed-methods examination of sexual coercion and degradation among women in violent relationships who do and do not report forced sex. Violence and Victims, 22, 71–94.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Martin, E. K., Taft, C. T., & Resick, P. A. (2007). A review of marital rape. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12, 329–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McFarlane, J. (2007). Pregnancy following partner rape: What we know and what we need to know. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 8, 127–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McFarlane, J. M., & Malecha, A. (2005). Sexual assault among intimates: Frequency, consequences and treatments. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.Google Scholar
  45. McFarlane, J., Malecha, A., Gist, J., Watson, K., Batten, E., Hall, I., et al. (2005). Intimate partner sexual assault against women and associated victim substance use, suicidality, and risk factors for femicide. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 26, 953–967.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. McFarlane, J., Malecha, A., Watson, K., Gist, J., Batten, E., Hall, I., et al. (2007). Intimate partner physical and sexual assault and child behavior problems. American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 32, 74–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McHorney, C. A., Ware, J. E., Lu, J. F., & Sherbourne, C. D. (1994). The MOS 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), III: Tests of data quality, scaling assumptions, and reliability across diverse patient groups. Medical Care, 32, 40–66.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Meyer, S.-L., Vivian, D., & O’Leary, K. D. (1998). Men’s sexual aggression in marriage: Couples’ reports. Violence Against Women, 4, 415–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Meyers, L. S., Gamst, G., & Guarino, A. J. (2013). Applied multivariate research: Design and interpretation (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  50. Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Krueger, R. F., Magdol, L., Margolin, G., Silva, P. A., et al. (1997). Do partners agree about abuse in their relationship? A psychometric evaluation of interpartner agreement. Psychological Assessment, 9, 47–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Monson, C. M., Langhinrichsen-Rohling, J., & Taft, C. T. (2009). Sexual aggression in intimate relationships. In K. D. O’Leary & E. M. Woodin (Eds.), Psychological and physical aggression in couples: Causes and interventions (pp. 37–58). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nakamura, B. J., Ebesutani, C., Bernstein, A., & Chorpita, B. F. (2009). A psychometric analysis of the Child Behavior Checklist DSM-oriented scales. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 31, 178–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Okun, L. (1986). Woman abuse: Facts replacing myths. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  54. Pico-Alfonso, M. A., Garcia-Linares, M. I., Celda-Navarro, N., Blasco-Ros, C., Echeburúa, E., & Martinez, M. (2006). The impact of physical, psychological, and sexual intimate male partner violence on women’s mental health: Depressive symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder, state anxiety, and suicide. Journal of Women’s Health, 15, 599–611.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Pino, N. W., & Meier, R. F. (1999). Gender differences in rape reporting. Sex Roles, 40, 979–990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Richters, J. E., & Martinez, P. (1992). Things I have seen and heard: measures for assessment of functioning & outcomes in longitudinal research on child abuse. Retrieved from
  58. Richters, J. E., & Martinez, P. (1993). The NIMH community violence project: I. Children as victims of and witnesses to violence. Psychiatry, 56, 7–21.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Ruggiero, K. J., DelBen, K., Scotti, J. R., & Rabalais, A. E. (2003). Psychometric properties of the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 495–502.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Sarrel, P. M., & Masters, W. H. (1982). Sexual molestation of men by women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 11, 117–131.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Spiller, L. C., Jouriles, E. N., McDonald, R., & Skopp, N. A. (2012). Physically abused women’s experiences of sexual victimization and their children’s disruptive behavior problems. Psychology of Violence, 2, 401–410.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  62. Spilsbury, J. C., Kahana, S., Drotar, D., Creeden, R., Flannery, D. J., & Friedman, S. (2008). Profiles of behavioral problems in children who witness domestic violence. Violence and Victims, 23, 3–17.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Straus, M. A. (1990). Injury and frequency of assault and the ‘representative sample fallcy’ in measuring wife beating and child abuse. In M. A. Straus & R. J. Gelles (Eds.), Physical violence in American families: Risk factors and adaptations in 8,145 families (pp. 75–89). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.Google Scholar
  64. Straus, M. A. (1995). Trends in cultural norms and rates of partner violence: An update to 1992. In S. Stith & M. A. Straus (Eds.), Understanding partner violence: Prevalence, causes, consequences, and solutions (pp. 30–33). Minneapolis, MN: National Council on Family Relations.Google Scholar
  65. Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Boney-McCoy, S., & Sugarman, D. (1996). The Revised Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS-2): Development and preliminary psychometric data. Journal of Family Issues, 17, 283–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Straus, M. A., Hamby, S. L., Boney-McCoy, S., & Sugarman, D. (1999). The personal and relationships profile (PRP). Retrieved from
  67. Straus, M. A., & Mouradian, V. E. (1999). Preliminary psychometric data from the personal and relationships profile (PRP): A multi-scale tool for clinical screening and research on partner violence. Retrieved from
  68. Struckman-Johnson, C. (1988). Forced sex on dates: It happens to men, too. Journal of Sex Research, 24, 234–241.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. Struckman-Johnson, C. (1991). Male victims of acquaintance rape. In A. Parrot & L. Bechhofer (Eds.), Acquaintance rape: The hidden crime (pp. 192–213). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  70. Sutherland, C. A., Sullivan, C. M., & Bybee, D. I. (2001). Effects of intimate partner violence versus poverty on women’s health. Violence Against Women, 7, 1122–1143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2000). Extent, nature, and consequences of intimate partner violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Retrieved from
  72. Tolman, R. M. (1995). Psychological maltreatment of women inventory. Retrieved from
  73. Truman, J. L., & Morgan, R. E. (2014). Nonfatal domestic violence, 20032012. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from
  74. Vrana, S., & Lauterbach, D. (1994). Prevalence of traumatic events and post-traumatic psychological symptoms in a nonclinical sample of college students. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7, 289–302.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  75. Weathers, F. W., Litz, B. T., Herman, D. S., Huska, J. A., & Keane, T. M. (1993, October). The PTSD Checklist (PCL): Reliability, validity, and diagnostic utility. Paper presented at the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, San Antonio, TX.Google Scholar
  76. Woodin, E. M., Sotskova, A., & O’Leary, K. D. (2013). Intimate partner violence assessment in an historical context: Divergent approaches and opportunities for progress. Sex Roles, 69, 120–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyClark UniversityWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkBridgewater State UniversityBridgewaterUSA

Personalised recommendations