Interpersonal Violence Affects Men and Women in Similar Ways

Some statistics suggest that women are more likely than men to be the victims of intimate partner sexual assault. Date rape, sexual assault, and even stalking are highly concerning issues for women. These events can increase a woman’s risk of psychological issues, including anxiety, PTSD, depression, substance misuse, and suicide. However, many men also experience interpersonal violence. Although the rates of sexual assault may be higher for women, muggings, physical aggression, and other forms of violence can lead to significant psychological problems as well. There is a large body of research examining the negative consequences of violence against women, but less is known about how this type of event affects men. Therefore, Katherine M. Iverson of the Women’s Health Sciences Division of the National Center for PTSD in Boston, Massachusetts recently led a study that looked at the psychological outcomes of various types of interpersonal violence in a sample of 5,692 men and women.

Iverson found that 42% of the men and 46% or the women had experienced at least one occurrence of interpersonal violence. The women had more instances of sexual assault, physical assault, coercion, and stalking. The perpetrators were very often intimate partners. For the men, physical violence, aggression, or muggings were more common, and they were more likely perpetrated by a non-intimate or non-family individual. However, regardless of the type of violence, the victims all experienced similar mental health outcomes, including increased psychological problems and increased suicidal ideation and attempts. “Although women were at higher risk for several forms of interpersonal violence, the impact of interpersonal violence on mental health outcomes did not vary by gender,” Iverson said.

These findings suggest that men who are victims of violence are just as negatively impacted as women. Clinicians should be aware of this and should take measures to identify those at risk for mental health problems as a result of violence. They should also make men and women aware of prevention and intervention strategies to help protect them from negative outcomes.

Iverson, K. M., Dick, A., McLaughlin, K. A., Smith, B. N., Bell, M. E., Gerber, M. R., Cook, N., and Mitchell, K. S. (2012). Exposure to interpersonal violence and its associations with psychiatric morbidity in a U.S. national sample: A gender comparison. Psychology of Violence. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0030956

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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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  • Dr. Ed Wilson

    Dr. Ed Wilson

    December 31st, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Interestingly, a study conducted over 30 years ago as the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Project, found the when all forms of domestic violence were counted (violence against spouses, children, and elders) women were the aggressors two thirds of the time. That was not a popular or politically correct finding and the study was hastily buried.

    In our own practice we note that men virtually never report suffering physical violence, though that is changing, nor are they as apt to report verbal and emotional abuse. Men are “supposed” to be able to “take it”. That’s equally true of molestation – especially when the molestor is mother or other female family member.

    All of this leads us to note that there is one last area of abuse that remains to be brought out into the open, that of women as perpetrators.

  • Bernard


    December 31st, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    This article reminds me of the fundamental difference in the reactions of men and women to parking garages. For men, parking garages are a nuisance. For women, they are terrifying.

  • Chandler


    December 31st, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    I had a good friend and she and her husband were robbed at gun point in the Bahamas at night on the beach. They were only a few feet from the entrance to their resort, but b/c of the wind and surf, no one could hear them. Her husband was actually mad at her for a year and they had some real problems because he felt she did not do enough to help him. He felt she should have hit the guy over the head with a rock or something when she had a chance.

  • Mae


    December 31st, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    it only make sense that it would bother men as much as women right.

  • robert


    December 31st, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    finally,someone has spoken.often men are not even considered when violent cases and their impact is discussed.its always the women that are portrayed as victims and men as the perpetrators.let this be clear – we suffer just as much as women.

  • Adrian


    December 31st, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Men are supposed to be STRONG both physically and emotionally. A crying man is questioned on his masculinity. We need to ADHERE to the norms set by the society. Why is it so?

    Men go through the same ups and downs as women, it is very unfair that the two sexes are treated differently when it comes to them expressing or coping with such a problem.

  • Edwin


    December 31st, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    We’re all the same by nature. It’s the Norma that make us seem different. An even then some people are prone to being more affected by a violent incident than others,not defined by whether your a man or woman really.

  • Black Sheep

    Black Sheep

    January 1st, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    How ironic is it my ex-husband used to grab me by the throat spousal raping me while our 1 yr old baby slept in the same room & now he has been suffering from throat cancer for the past 7 years. Now if that is not Karma then I don’t know what it is. The 12/24/10 date rapist has no clue what’s coming his way. I was groomed by my father’s mistress & her 19 year old neighbor when I was 16 to see what I didn’t know I was set up…the affair. The 19 year old became my 1st abusive BF. I have had 6 with 2 being marriages. As a result the mistress snitched me out for sneaking out because she didn’t get her part of the plot…my father, but the 1st time I snuck out was to see what I was told I needed to see with my own eyes. My father called me a whore smacking me so hard on my jaw I urinated my pants running out of the house. Within days the BF, who was now 1K miles away in the military, wired me money for a bus ticket. I just got my school records for my autobiography, What is Wrong with the Black Sheep?, to find out on 6/12/81 my parents called the school telling them I was in FL all year. School just let out & they didn’t wait until the new school year. I sucked on iced cubes for days starving. I learned a very important lesson; don’t depend on anyone & I never starved again. That first BF was thrown thru a windshield dead. I accept all the 47 years of abuse God has given me because he knew I was going to make a difference in this horrific abusive world. I just won my grandparent rights. I had to file because the parents united in keeping my grandchildren from me due to reporting credible abuse. I am on my way to helping others. May good protect everyone from abuse.

  • Harlan


    January 2nd, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    No matter who you are or how strong you are, being the victim of violence, no matter who perpetrates it against you, is something that is difficult for any of us to deal with. You feel belittled, you feel injured inside and out, and it makes you scared to be a trusting individual again. Being a victim doen’t mean that you have to always go through life being a victim afterwards, but it does mean that you may need some help getting through those troubling times until you feel strong again.

  • Brent


    January 2nd, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    I would think, though, that for men the impact is a little different, because I can only speak for myself and my friends, but none of us are very likely to let things out and talk to others deeply about something loike this that bothers us. It doesn’t seem too manly to always be bringing up in conversation how much violence has hurt you and how it’s affecting you. So most of us just kind of lay low and keept it all inside, so in some ways I think that this is way more harmful than those who let it out.

  • Danny


    January 2nd, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    While men may seem tough on the outside,feelings are the same on the inside.Its never easy to come to terms with something such as interpersonal violence,whether youre a man or a woman.We have so much in common deep inside.Its only the outside and external factors that differentiate us.

    When it comes to threat situations,everybody can be affected,whether it is an old lady or a young strong man,its more of a mental thing than physical.

  • lavigh


    January 3rd, 2013 at 4:02 AM

    my first instinct would be to think that violence against women would make them more meek and men more angry

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