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CMAJ. 2008 Sep 9;179(6):535-41. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.071655.

Physical violence against intimate partners and related exposures to violence among South African men.

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Yale School of Public Health and Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.



Despite high rates of intimate partner violence in South Africa, there have been no national studies of men's perpetration of violence against female partners.


We analyzed data from the South Africa Stress and Health Study, a cross-sectional, nationally representative study, specifically examining data for men who had ever been married or had ever cohabited with a female partner. We calculated the prevalence of physical violence against intimate female partners and used logistic regression to examine associations with physical abuse during childhood and exposure to parental and community violence.


A total of 834 male participants in the South Africa Stress and Health Study met the study criteria. Of these, 27.5% reported using physical violence against their current or most recent female partner during their current or most recent marriage or cohabiting relationship. Crude odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) indicated significant associations between perpetration of violence against an intimate partner and witnessing parental violence (OR 3.91, 95% CI 2.66-5.73) or experiencing physical abuse during childhood (OR 3.24, 95% CI 2.27-4.63), but not exposure to community violence (OR 1.29, 95% CI 0.88-1.88). The 2 significant associations persisted in adjusted analyses: OR 3.22 (95% CI 1.94-5.33) for witnessing parental violence and OR 1.73 (95% CI 1.07-2.79) for experiencing physical abuse during childhood.


We found a high prevalence of physical violence perpetrated by men against their intimate partners. Men who experienced physical abuse during childhood or were exposed to parental violence were at the greatest risk.

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