Members of the military face numerous challenges that the average civilian does not. Enlisted men and women must endure rigorous work schedules, dangerous situations, adjustment to military life, and sometimes long periods of separation. Add to that additional stresses for returning veterans, financial strain due to low pay, and the struggles of raising small children and you have the potential for a highly tense environment. Intimate partner violence (IPV) occurs at about the same rate among military personnel as it does among civilians. However, the rates of alcohol consumption are quite higher for members of the armed forces. Because alcohol can increase aggressive behavior, Heather M. Foran of the Institute of Psychology at the University of Braunschweig in Germany wanted to find out what other factors increased the level of IPV among military personnel under the influence of alcohol.
Foran conducted a study that looked at the contributing factors for women and men separately by examining more than 8,000 military women and men. She assessed several moderators, including developmental, family, and community variables. Foran found that for men, low levels of marital satisfaction and parental satisfaction directly increased the alcohol/IPV relationship. She also discovered that the younger men with low incomes were at risk for IPV perpetration. The final factor that increased the chance of IPV among military men who used alcohol was feeling unsafe within their communities. When Foran looked at the women, she found no significant influence for any of these factors on the IPV/alcohol use relationship, even though many of the women she surveyed had reported committing IPV in the past.
The findings from this study suggest that military personnel who are under the influence of alcohol and stressors, including financial strain and community dissatisfaction, may need little additional motivation to cross the line into IPV. For these men, an argument with a spouse or child can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The implications of this research suggest the need for treatments that focus on relationship-improvement strategies, especially among men early in their careers with small children, low pay grades, and less age-related maturity. “Hence, addressing hazardous alcohol use as part of an IPV prevention program may be most effective among younger men at earlier developmental life stages,” Foran said.
Foran, Heather M., Richard E. Heyman, Amy M. Smith Slep, and Jeffrey D. Snarr. Hazardous alcohol use and intimate partner violence in the military: Understanding protective factors. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 26.3 (2012): 471-83. Print.
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