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Husband and Wife Alcohol Use as Independent or Interactive Predictors of Intimate Partner Violence

Maria Testa, Audrey Kubiak, Brian M. Quigley, Rebecca J. Houston, Jaye L. Derrick, Ash Levitt, Gregory G. Homish, Kenneth E. Leonard

Objective: Men's heavy drinking has been established as a risk factor for their perpetration of intimate partner violence (IPV); however, the role of women's drinking in their perpetration of IPV is less clear. The current study examined the relative strength of husbands' and wives' alcohol use and alcohol dependence symptoms on the occurrence and frequency of husbands' and wives' IPV perpetration. Method: Married and cohabiting community couples (N = 280) were identified and recruited according to their classification in one of four drinking groups: heavy episodic drinking occurred in both partners (n = 79), the husband only (n = 80), the wife only (n = 41), and neither (n = 80). Husband and wife alcohol consumption, alcohol dependence symptoms, and IPV perpetration were assessed independently for both partners. Results: Husband and wife consumption and alcohol dependence symptoms contributed to the likelihood and frequency of husband IPV, both independently and interactively. Husband, but not wife, alcohol dependence symptoms contributed to the occurrence of any wife IPV, although both partners' alcohol dependence symptoms predicted the frequency of wife aggression. Couples with discrepant drinking were not more likely to perpetrate IPV. Conclusions: Findings for husband IPV support previous research identifying alcohol use of both partners as a predictor. However, for wives, alcohol appears to play less of a role in IPV perpetration, perhaps reflecting that women experience less inhibition against physical aggression in their intimate relationships than do men. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 73, 268276, 2012)