Intimate Partner Violence Between Male Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and Their Female Partners Who Seek Couples Therapy

Andra Teten Tharp, Michelle D. Sherman, Ursula Bowling, Bradford J. Townsend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The current study has three aims: (1) to describe the frequency, gender differences, and agreement in couples’ reports of male-to-female and female-to-male intimate partner violence (IPV) reported by male veterans and their female partners who were seeking couples therapy; (2) to describe the pattern of violence reported by these couples (e.g., one-sided, mutual) and determine if frequency of violence varied based on patterns; and (3) to examine whether frequency of violence or pattern of violence were associated with veteran diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One hundred heterosexual couples (male Iraq/Afghanistan veteran, female civilian) seeking couples therapy at a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic completed self-report measures of violence in their relationship. Almost all couples reported verbal aggression. Men reported perpetrating more frequent sexual coercion, and women reported perpetrating more frequent physical aggression. Correspondence in partners’ reports of violence varied based on type of violence from high correspondence on verbal aggression to low correspondence on sexual coercion. Three patterns of violence were identified: verbally aggressive (n = 45), one-sided physically aggressive (n = 27), and mutually physically aggressive (n = 26). Mutually physically aggressive couples generally reported the most frequent violence. Frequency and pattern of violence were not associated with veteran diagnosis of PTSD. Findings underscore the need for clinicians to assess both partners for violence perpetration and the need for effective prevention strategies and treatments for IPV among veterans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1115
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © The Author(s) 2014.


  • Global War on Terror
  • couples therapy
  • intimate partner violence
  • veterans


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