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Male students can be victims of girlfriends’ violence too


Washington: Male college students can also be victims of their girlfriends’ violence, says a new study.

Sandra Stith, professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University, said most research has looked at men as offenders and women as victims.

“In the research on college students in particular, we’re finding both men and women can be perpetrators,” she said. “In our growing-up years, we teach boys not to hit their sisters, but we don’t teach girls not to hit their brothers.”

She and a K-State research team are looking at the impact that being a victim of violence has on male versus female college students in heterosexual relationships.

“Most research shows female victims having higher levels of depression, anxiety and school problems than non-victims,” Stith said.

“Our research indicates that both male and female college students are being victims of violence, and we want to see how it affects both.”

In 2008, Stith and her former student at Virginia Tech, Colleen Baker, found the biggest predictor of whether male and female college students would use violence against a partner was whether the partner was violent toward them.

“It’s a dramatically more important factor than anything else,” Stith said. “If your girlfriend hits you, that dramatically increases the likelihood that you’re going to hit her, and vice versa.”

In general, Stith said there are lower levels of violence among college couples than among married or cohabiting couples, and the violence is more likely to involve shoving and pushing by both men and women.

Alcohol is often a factor in violence among older couples who are married or in long-term relationships. Stith said drinking — particularly binge drinking — also plays a big part in college student violence.

Other factors include a lack of anger management skills and having grown up with parents who are violent with one another, says a K State release.

“When students get angry with their boyfriend or girlfriend, violence sometimes seems to be the normal thing to do,” she said.

These findings were published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma.