Intimate Partner Violence Among Female Veterans and Active Duty Service Members
Method: A systematic review of studies related to IPV among female service members and veterans was conducted during October and November 2011. Four literature databases - PubMed, PsychINFO, Web of Science, and Social Services Abstracts – were searched for studies published from 1999 through November 2011. This search was augmented with a review of related citations for each of the source articles and the references mentioned in each of the source articles. Eligible studies included English-language publications describing IPV victimization, perpetration or both in relation to female service members and veterans.
Results: Of 493 studies that were initially reviewed, 24 met the inclusion criteria. Fifteen studies included estimates for IPV victimization only, three studies included estimates for IPV perpetration only, and six studies included estimates for both. Among female service members, the prevalence of IPV victimization ranged from 17% to 39%. The prevalence of IPV victimization among female veterans was even higher with estimates ranging from 21.9% to 74%. Among female service members, the prevalence of IPV perpetration ranged from 14.3% to 38%. No studies were found that reported on IPV perpetration by female veterans.
Conclusions and Implications: High prevalence of IPV victimization among female veterans and service members warrants urgent attention of researchers and practitioners. Routine screening for IPV by health care providers is important. A safe means for reporting incidents of IPV and accessing treatment, as well as more gender-specific treatment services are needed. More information on prevalence of IPV perpetration by female veterans and the reasonably high prevalence of IPV perpetration by female service members needs focus. Treatment protocols for female perpetrators are yet to be developed. Moreover, female perpetrators may frequently be victims of abuse themselves. Trauma-informed environments with a focus on safety are important in working with female victims and perpetrators of IPV. Future studies should expand the knowledge base on prevalence of IPV victimization, different types of IPV experienced and their effects on health. In addition, attention should be given to IPV perpetration within the context of combat exposure and health problems such as posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.