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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 Jul;162(7):634-41. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.7.634.

Relationship violence among female and male college undergraduate students.

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  • 1Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



To assess prevalence of victimization and perpetration of relationship violence before and during college, to explore variations by gender, and to examine differences by relationship type.


Anonymously surveyed students in 67 randomly chosen classes.


Three urban college campuses.


Nine hundred ten undergraduate college students aged 17 to 22 years.


Self-reported victimization and perpetration of physical, emotional, and sexual violence; relationship to the victim or perpetrator.


Most (57.1%) students were female, and 58.7% were white, 16.4% black, and 15.1% Asian. Of 910 participants, 407 (44.7%) experienced partner or nonpartner violence: 383 (42.1%) reported victimization and 156 (17.1%) reported perpetration. All victimization and perpetration rates were highest before college. Emotional violence was most common before college (21.1%); during college, sexual and emotional violence were equally common (12.0% and 11.8%, respectively). Women reported more victimization than men, but male victimization was considerable (27.2%). More men perpetrated sexual violence; more women perpetrated physical violence. More than half (130 of 227) of the violence experienced during college was partner related. Students experiencing partner violence during college were more likely to experience physical and emotional violence and were less likely to experience sexual violence.


Relationship violence is prevalent among college students and frequently occurs before college. Emotional violence was most frequent before college; sexual and emotional violence were equally common during college. Women reported more victimization than men, but male victimization was common. Men perpetrated more sexual violence; women perpetrated more physical violence. Physical violence and emotional violence were most often committed by partners, while sexual violence was less likely to be partner related.

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