The Effect of Gender and Perpetrator-Victim Role on Mental Health Outcomes and Risk Behaviors Associated With Intimate Partner Violence

J Interpers Violence. 2016 Apr;31(7):1184-207. doi: 10.1177/0886260514564163. Epub 2014 Dec 18.


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major public health concern. Previous studies have consistently shown that IPV is tied by to a variety of detrimental consequences for affected individuals, including negative mental health outcomes. However, the differential impact of gender and perpetrator-victim role (i.e., whether an individual is the perpetrator or victim of violence or both) remains largely understudied in the academic literature. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to describe a variety of mental health outcomes and risk behaviors among men and women experiencing no violence, perpetration-only, victimization-only, and bidirectional violence. Data from Waves 3 and 4 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 7,187) were used. Participants provided information on their perpetrator-victim role and on a variety of factors related to mental health (depression, suicidality, alcohol use, illegal drug use, and relationship satisfaction). For all outcomes, prevalence and severity generally tended to be highest among individuals affected by bidirectional IPV and lowest among individuals not affected by any violence (independent of gender). The present findings highlight that IPV and negative mental health outcomes and risk behaviors should be addressed as co-occurring problems in research, prevention, and treatment. In addition, all gender-role combinations should be addressed to better understand and address all potential effects of IPV. According to the present findings, couples affected by bidirectional violence are at particularly high risk of developing mental health disorders. Thus, policy makers and clinicians should predominantly target couples as well as individuals who are not only the victims but also the perpetrators of IPV and pay particular attention to potential signs of mental health distress these individuals might exhibit.

Keywords: gender; intimate partner violence; mental health; perpetrator–victim role.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Young Adult