Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a complex global problem, not only because it is a human rights issue, but also because it is associated with chronic mental and physical illnesses as well as acute health outcomes related to injuries for women and their children. Attitudes, beliefs, and norms regarding IPV are significantly associated with the likelihood of both IPV experience and perpetration.
We investigated whether IPV acceptance is correlated across socially connected individuals, whether these correlations differ across types of relationships, and whether social position is associated with the likelihood of accepting IPV. We used sociocentric network data from 831 individuals in rural Honduras to assess the association of IPV acceptance between socially connected individuals across 15 different types of relationships, both within and between households. We also investigated the association between network position and IPV acceptance.
We found that having a social contact that accepts IPV is strongly associated with IPV acceptance among individuals. For women the clustering of IPV acceptance was not significant in between-household relationships, but was concentrated within households. For men, however, while IPV acceptance was strongly clustered within households, men’s acceptance of IPV was also correlated with people with whom they regularly converse, their mothers and their siblings, regardless of household. We also found that IPV was more likely to be accepted by less socially-central individuals, and that the correlation between a social contact’s IPV acceptance was stronger on the periphery, suggesting that, as a norm, it is held on the periphery of the community.
Our results show that differential targeting of individuals and relationships in order to reduce the acceptability and, subsequently, the prevalence of IPV may be most effective. Because IPV norms seem to be strongly held within households, the household is probably the most logical unit to target in order to implement change. This approach would include the possible benefit of a generational effect. Finally, in social contexts in which perpetration of IPV is not socially acceptable, the most effective strategy may be to implement change not at the center but at the periphery of the community.
Below: Shows one village’s network from 2 perspectives. The left panel depicts all ties from a randomly selected group of individuals. Note that IPV acceptance is clustered among socially connected individuals and that IPV is generally more accepted on the periphery of the network. The right panel depicts only within household ties from the same randomly selected group. Note the strong clustering of IPV norms at the household level
Below: Shows the differential correlation between egos and alter across relationship types depending upon whether or not they live in the same household
Below: The dynamics around ego and alters network characteristics provide possible clues as to norms. Highly connected egos are less likely to accept IPV (left panel). When alters are poorly connected in the community, the correlation between ego’s and alter’s IPV acceptance is higher (right panel)
By: Holly B. Shakya, D. Alex Hughes, Derek Stafford, Nicholas A. Christakis, James H. Fowler, and Jay G. Silverman
Department of Global Public Health, School of Medicine, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, #0507, La Jolla, CA 92093-0507 USA
Department of Political Science, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA USA
Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI USA
Department of Sociology, Yale University, New Haven, CT USA
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