Advanced Search Abstract Using a sample of Deaf female undergraduate students, the current study sought to investigate the prevalence, correlates, and characteristics of intimate partner violence victimization in hearing—Deaf and Deaf—Deaf relationships.
Initial results suggest that similarities in hearing status and communication preference are associated with increased levels of negotiation within these relationships. However, compatibility in these areas did not co-occur with significant decreases in physical, psychological, or sexual partner violence. Recommendations for future research as well as implications for clinical and educational practice are outlined.
The hearing status of the perpetrator is one key issue that has not yet been investigated. The current study sought to address limitations of previous work on intimate partner violence against Deaf women by investigating the prevalence, correlates, and characteristics of intimate partner violence victimization in Deaf—Deaf versus hearing—Deaf relationships.
Research has indicated that individuals in the Deaf community may be more likely to exhibit risk factors for intimate partner violence than their hearing counterparts.
Additionally, the emergence of interpersonal violence can be ascribed to institutionalized inequalities among individuals, as postulated in social structural theory Gil, These inequalities can relate to age, race, gender, social class, marital status, occupational status, and so on. Individuals who hold lower or unequal positions in the social hierarchy are subject to greater social stress, a risk factor for intimate partner violence perpetration and victimization Ellison et al.
An additional correlate of intimate partner violence is health literacy—the ability to obtain, process, and understand health information that is necessary to make suitable health care decisions. Because of lack of access to auditory incidental learning, loss of family contact and communication, lack of knowledge of personal and medical history, and the lack of health education programs provided in ASL, some Deaf ASL users may have low health literacy McKee, Based on these findings, it is likely that Deaf individuals have less knowledge regarding the dangers and acceptability of intimate partner violence, potentially accounting for some variance in the heightened levels of intimate partner violence perpetration and victimization within the Deaf community.
Although no empirical work on the prevalence or correlates of hearing-to-Deaf relationship violence currently exists, it is possible to extrapolate from work conducted on intimate partner violence in intercultural and interracial relationships. Individuals with different racial or cultural backgrounds may enter a relationship with varying values, lifestyles, and opinions. As stated above, the emergence of interpersonal violence can be ascribed to institutionalized inequalities among individuals.
However, the majority of literature focuses on institutionalized inequalities that separate the couple from society i. With respect to hearing—Deaf relationships, these institutionalized inequalities are present within the relationship—a salient reminder of social inequities. Following this line of reasoning, it may be that the institutionalized inequalities present in hearing—Deaf relationships may lead to increased levels of stress within the relationship, and subsequent increases in partner violence.
Recent research on partner preference among Deaf and hard-of-hearing HoH college students indicates that culturally Deaf individuals were more likely to prefer partners who exhibited similar culturally Deaf characteristics, including comparable educational background, hearing status, cultural identity, and mode of communication McLaughlin, However, when asked to rank most important partner characteristics, mode of communication was the most highly ranked among Deaf and HoH college students, placing communication compatibility above hearing status, identity, or educational background McLaughlin, The finding of mode of communication being the most important characteristic is consistent with research in the general hearing community, which suggests that both hearing males and females prefer their partner to be fluent in the same language Liu, Empirical work conducted by Babcock et al.
For partners in hearing-Deaf relationships, where an equally accessible, equally fluent form of communication may not be shared, this line of research has great implications. Without establishing a communication foundation, the task of developing skilled nonviolent conflict resolution becomes impossible. The abuse of hearing privilege. A similar power imbalance can occur in hearing—Deaf relationships when disproportionate value is given to English over ASL as a preferred communication method, or when one partner does not have equal access to the majority language.
Because the hearing—Deaf relationship is in essence a majority—minority relationship, this institutionalized power imbalance between partners may increase the likelihood of abuse in these relationships.
From her experience working with Deaf survivors, Julie Rems-Smario has compiled an extensive list of examples of this abuse of privilege, some of which are described here: A hearing abuser does not inform the Deaf victim when people try to call her; he excludes her from important conversations and financial decisions; he leaves her out of social situations with other hearing people; he talks negatively about the Deaf community or disallows access to Deaf culture; he criticizes her speech and English skills; and he manipulates police officers when they are called to the house.
This work, and the remainder of information on hearing-to-Deaf intimate partner violence, is largely based on anecdotes from clinicians and advocates working with Deaf survivors.
As of yet, there have been no published empirical studies investigating the dynamics of intimate partner violence in hearing—Deaf and Deaf—Deaf relationships. Research Questions and Hypotheses Although initial estimates of the prevalence of intimate partner violence against Deaf women have been determined, these percentages do not differentiate between Deaf-to-Deaf and hearing-to-Deaf violence.
It is possible that the prevalence of intimate partner violence in Deaf—Deaf and hearing—Deaf relationships is not equivalent, with the prevalence of hearing-to-Deaf violence greater than Deaf-to-Deaf violence. Therefore, it is not entirely clear if the discrepancy in violence against Deaf and hearing women is exacerbated by an increased prevalence in intimate partner violence within hearing—Deaf relationships. Utilizing a sample of Deaf female undergraduate students, the current study sought to investigate the prevalence, correlates, and characteristics of intimate partner violence victimization in hearing—Deaf and Deaf—Deaf relationships by answering the following questions: What is the prevalence of intimate partner violence in hearing—Deaf versus Deaf—Deaf relationships?
Based on previous research investigating violence in interracial and intercultural relationships, communication incompatibility, and privilege discrepancies, it is hypothesized that the prevalence of intimate partner violence will be significantly higher in hearing—Deaf relationships compared with Deaf—Deaf relationships. What are the correlates and characteristics of intimate partner violence in hearing—Deaf versus Deaf—Deaf relationships?
It is hypothesized that factors reflecting the abuse of hearing privilege would emerge as significant predictors of violence, especially in hearing—Deaf relationships. Method Participants Inclusion criteria. Deaf female undergraduate students were recruited from Gallaudet University, a federally chartered university for the liberal arts education of Deaf and HoH students, located in the District of Columbia.
In order to qualify for the study, students needed to meet certain inclusion criteria: Additionally, students must have been in at least one relationship within the past year—marriage, cohabitating, and dating relationships were all eligible, and there was no limit placed on the length of the relationship. The referent period for primary measure of intimate partner violence is the previous year—therefore, in order to respond to items about conflict-resolution behaviors in relationships, it was necessary that each student was involved in at least one relationship during the past year.
Ninety-seven female undergraduate students were recruited for the current study, ranging in age from 18 to 25 years, with a mean of These participants reported on a total of past-year relationships, with a mean of 1. Eighty five percent Additional participant and partner demographic information is listed in Table 1.