The association between substance use and intimate partner violence within Black male same-sex relationships

J Interpers Violence. 2015 Mar;30(5):762-81. doi: 10.1177/0886260514536277. Epub 2014 Jun 11.


Compared with the extant research on heterosexual intimate partner violence (IPV)-including the knowledge base on alcohol and illicit drug use as predictors of such IPV-there is a paucity of studies on IPV among men who have sex with men (MSM), especially Black MSM. This study investigates the prevalence of experiencing and perpetrating IPV among a sample of Black MSM couples and examines whether heavy drinking and/or illicit substance use is associated with IPV. We conducted a secondary analysis on a data set from 74 individuals (constituting 37 Black MSM couples) screened for inclusion in a couple-based HIV prevention pilot study targeting methamphetamine-involved couples. More than one third (n= 28, 38%) reported IPV at some point with the current partner: 24 both experiencing and perpetrating, 2 experiencing only, and 2 perpetrating only. IPV in the past 30 days was reported by 21 (28%) of the participants: 18 both experiencing and perpetrating, 1 experiencing only, and 2 perpetrating only. Heavy drinking and methamphetamine use each was associated significantly with experiencing and perpetrating IPV throughout the relationship as well as in the past 30 days. Rock/crack cocaine use was significantly associated with any history of experiencing and perpetrating IPV. Altogether, IPV rates in this sample of Black MSM couples equal or exceed those observed among women victimized by male partners as well as the general population of MSM. This exploratory study points to a critical need for further efforts to understand and address IPV among Black MSM. Similar to heterosexual IPV, results point to alcohol and illicit drug use treatment as important avenues to improve the health and social well-being of Black MSM.

Keywords: African American; Black; men who have sex with men; partner violence; substance use; syndemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black People
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*