Georgetown University releases domestic violence study

BY Advocate.com Editors

January 30 2003 1:00 AM ET

A new study shows that one in five urban gay men is battered by his partner, showing that gay men are just as likely as straight women to be the victims of domestic violence. The study, the first of its kind, appears in the December issue of American Journal of Public Health.

"While decades of research has yielded valuable information about violence among heterosexual partners, until now very little has been known about violence among same-sex partners," said Michael Relf, assistant professor at Georgetown University's School of Nursing and Health Studies and a lead author of the study. "This study shatters the myth that men are able to protect themselves from violence perpetuated by other men. We now know that domestic violence is an equal opportunity epidemic." The study also showed that HIV-positive men as well as men age 40 or younger were more likely to be abused.

"Perhaps the most startling and disturbing finding was that being HIV-positive increases the likelihood of being physically battered," said Relf. "Many men in the study were subjected to physical and emotional violence after telling their partners they had been diagnosed with HIV. Tragically, men who rely on abusive partners for financial support often are forced to make the impossible choice between violence and homelessness."

Relf and his colleagues surveyed 2,881 gay men in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago. The sample included men who identify as gay or bisexual as well as men who identify as heterosexual but who have sex with other men. Participants underwent a comprehensive phone interview of an average duration of 75 minutes, a length of time that is "virtually unheard-of in telephone-based scientific studies," said Relf.

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