Intimate Partner Violence Increases with Alcohol Consumption

According to a new study, the rates of intimate partner violence (IPV) among college students increase significantly with alcohol consumption. Todd M. Moore, Sara R. Elkins, James K. McNulty, Aaron J. Kivisto,and Vanessa A. Handsel, all of the University of Tennessee, compared the rates of IPV on drinking and non-drinking days in a sample of 184 college students. The participants were given a Palm Pilot to record their activities, episodes of violence, and number of alcoholic drinks consumed, over a two month period. The participants had been in relationships for an average of 19 months and they assessed their happiness using The Relationship Assessment Scale. Symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD were gauged using the depression subscale of the Brief Symptom Inventory, the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire-4 and the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist. The participants reported how many instances of IPV had occurred in the previous six months using the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale prior to the onset of the study.

At the end of the 60 days, the researchers discovered that 44% of the participants had been psychologically aggressive and over 15% had committed at least one physical act of assault. The researchers said, “Based on a total of 7,775 daily electronic diary reports, results showed that the odds of perpetrating psychological and physical aggression were 2.19 and 3.64 times greater, respectively, on drinking days relative to nondrinking days. Men evidenced 7.03 greater odds of engaging in psychological aggression on drinking days, whereas women had only 1.60 greater odds of engaging in psychological aggression on drinking relative to nondrinking days.” They added, “Accordingly, by making male college students, in particular, more aware of the danger that drinking poses on becoming violent toward their intimate partner, and thus, more aware of the benefits of reducing alcohol use to prevent IPV, intervention and prevention programs may help some individuals and couples from becoming alcohol dependent.”

Moore, T. M., Elkins, S. R., McNulty, J. K., Kivisto, A. J., & Handsel, V. A. (2011, August 15). Alcohol Use and Intimate Partner Violence Perpetration Among College Students: Assessing the Temporal Association Using Electronic Diary Technology. Psychology of Violence. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025077

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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    August 24th, 2011 at 4:13 AM

    I dated a guy once who was the nicest guy until he started drinking and then he became a monster. He could not even have one beer before his whole personality would change. Scary stuff.

  • martha


    August 24th, 2011 at 7:06 AM

    a very significant find if you ask me.alcohol consumption does no good except the temporary feel-good and is a lot more harmful than that.this study’s findings should I think be put up for college students to see and know.

  • Marshall


    August 24th, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    I’m not surprised at all! Take an immature youngster who wants to get drunk just to et drunk, add some alcohol and you have the perfect conditions for some pretty violent stuff!

  • Noel Augustine

    Noel Augustine

    August 25th, 2011 at 4:23 AM

    I’m surprised at how little effect it has in girls.Is it because they are generally less prone to be aggressive or is it because they often limit their drinking unlike the guys…??

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