Methods: A sample of college students at a large public university in the Southeast was recruited using stratified random sampling. Data were collected in fall 2015 through an anonymous, online survey. We limited the analysis sample to cisgender college students who reported having at least one sexual partner in the past year (N=431). The independent variable, reproductive coercion, was a binary indicator measuring any reproductive coercion experiences in the past year (i.e., pregnancy coercion, contraceptive interference). The dependent variables included seven dichotomous variables measuring various types of violent victimization (i.e., sexual assault, sexual harassment, physical partner violence, psychological partner violence, stalking, and bullying) and polyvictimization (i.e., experiencing more than one type of violent victimization) in the past year. The study controlled for demographic characteristics, including age, year in school, race/ethnicity, living arrangements, and sexual orientation. We ran chi-square tests to identify risk factors associated with reproductive coercion and logistic regression models to assess the relationship between reproductive coercion and violent victimization experiences, while controlling for covariates.
Results: The mean age was 22.16 (SD=5.28), 58.47% of the sample were women, and 77.26% were undergraduate students. The majority self-identified as White (62.41%) and heterosexual (88.63%). About 11% (n=46) of the sample reported experiencing reproductive coercion. Women (χ2 =6.58) and undergraduate students (χ2 =7.71) showed significantly higher risks of reproductive coercion. Most (67.05%) participants reported experiencing at least one form of violent victimization, and 39.91% experienced polyvictimization. Reproductive coercion was associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing polyvictimization and all violent victimization experiences except for physical partner violence. The adjusted odds ratios for the seven models tested are as follows: sexual harassment (OR = 8.89, CI [3.56, 22.24]), sexual assault (OR = 8.72, CI [4.21, 18.02]), physical abuse (OR = 1.15, CI [0.36, 3.65]), psychological abuse (OR = 2.31, CI [1.17, 4.55]), stalking (OR = 9.65, CI [4.71, 19.75], bullying (OR = 3.49, CI [1.79, 6.79]), and polyvictimization (OR = 5.40, CI [2.75, 10.60]). Students reporting their racial/ethnic group as other (i.e., not Black, Hispanic, or White) reported higher odds of each victimization experience except for sexual harassment, and women reported higher odds of physical partner abuse, psychological partner abuse, and bullying.
Conclusions and Implications: This study shows significant associations between reproductive coercion and violent victimization in college students. Health providers, especially those working with college populations, should consider screening for reproductive coercion, in order to meet students’ reproductive health needs and potentially uncover other forms of victimization.