Pre-marital predictors of marital violence in the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys
Stokes, Cara M., David R. Williams, Ronny Bruffaerts, Beth-Ellen Pennell, Zeina N. Mneimneh, Zeina N. Mneimneh, Ronald C. Kessler, Ronald C. Kessler, et al. 2020. "Pre-marital predictors of marital violence in the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys." Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 55: 393-405.
Purpose: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a pervasive public health problem. Existing research has focused on reports from victims and few studies have considered pre-marital factors. The main objective of this study was to identify pre-marital predictors of IPV in the current marriage using information obtained from husbands and wives.
Methods: Data from were obtained from married heterosexual couples in six countries. Potential predictors included demographic and relationship characteristics, adverse childhood experiences, dating violence, and psychiatric disorders. Reports of IPV and other characteristics from husbands and wives were considered independently and in relation to spousal reports.
Results: Overall, 14.4% of women were victims of IPV in the current marriage. Analyses identified ten significant variables including age at first marriage (husband), education, relative number of previous marriages (wife), history of one or more categories of childhood adversity (husband or wife), history of dating violence (husband or wife), early initiation of sexual intercourse (husband or wife), and four combinations of internalizing and externalizing disorders. The final model was moderately predictive of marital violence, with the 5% of women accounting for 18.6% of all cases of marital IPV.
Conclusions: Results from this study advance understanding of pre-marital predictors of IPV within current marriages, including the importance of considering differences in the experiences of partners prior to marriage and may provide a foundation for more targeted primary prevention efforts.
Methodology Social Psychology