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Lifetime and Recent Experiences of Violence Among College Women

Fantasia, Heidi Collins, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC1; Sutherland, Melissa A., PhD, FNP-BC2; Hutchinson, M. Katherine, PhD, RN, FAAN3

doi: 10.1097/JFN.0000000000000211
Original Articles

Introduction: Intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual violence (SV) are serious issues for female college students. Approximately one third of women have experienced physical violence or SV in their lifetime. Female college students experience high rates of both IPV and SV. The purpose of this secondary analysis was to describe the experiences of violence and associated factors reported by college women.

Methods: This secondary analysis included data from a cross-sectional study focused on IPV/SV screening in college health centers. Random samples of female undergraduate students, aged 18–25 years, from five participating universities in the northeastern United States were contacted via email and invited to participate in the study. Eight hundred seventy-three young women met the inclusion criteria and completed survey measures.

Results: More than half (52%, n = 457) of female undergraduate students reported having experienced at least one episode of violence in their lifetime. Almost 12% reported experiencing IPV or SV during the preceding semester. For women reporting recent experiences of violence, forced unwanted sexual activities accounted for nearly half of all reported episodes of violence (n = 46). Heavier alcohol drinking on the weekends was correlated with reports of forced sex.

Discussion: The results highlight the prevalence of past and recent IPV/SV and increased risk among college women. Further research is needed to identify risk factors of both victimization and perpetration and the milieu of risk on college campuses. Forensic nurses should be key stakeholders in the development and implementation of interventions for violence education, screening, and referral.

Author Affiliations: 1Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, Susan and Alan Solomont School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Lowell;

2Decker School of Nursing, Binghamton University, State University of New York; and

3William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health R03 HD080195-01.

Correspondence: Heidi Collins Fantasia, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, Susan and Alan Solomont School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 113 Wilder Street, Lowell, MA 01854. E-mail: Heidi_Fantasia@uml.edu.

Received May 9, 2018; accepted for publication June 22, 2018.

© 2018 by the International Association of Forensic Nurses. All rights reserved.
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