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University Students' Attitudes About Attributing Blame in Domestic Violence

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Violence Volume: 18 Issue: 6 Dated: December 2003 Pages: 369-376
Sharon A. Bryant; Gale A. Spencer
Date Published
December 2003
8 pages
This study examined university students' attribution of blame regarding domestic violence, their use of violence in dating relationships, and the relationship between the attribution of blame and their use of violence.
The study was conducted in a public university in upstate New York. The study sought to determine the prevalence of dating violence, how attribution of blame in incidents of domestic violence varied by demographic characteristics, and the relationship between attitudes about attribution of blame in domestic violence situations and the use of violence in dating relationships. The Domestic Violence Blame Scale was used to measure attitudes about domestic violence, and the Straus Conflict Tactic Scale was used to measure the use of violence in dating relationships. A total of 346 students completed the 2 instruments in 1997. Thirty-nine percent (n=135) of the students reported that they had used emotional abuse, physical violence, or sexual violence in a dating relationship in the past 12 months. Male students were more likely to blame the victim for provoking her husband to commit domestic violence. No other gender differences were found for the other blame constructs. Individuals with a prior history of violence were more likely to blame societal factors for fostering views that increased domestic violence. Members of fraternities and sororities were more likely to assign blame to the perpetrator for domestic violence than students who were not members of these organizations. Juniors and seniors were more likely than freshmen and sophomores to assign blame to the media for fostering attitudes that influence domestic violence. Significant correlations were found between blaming domestic violence on the victim and a student's use of verbal aggression, minor violence, severe violence, and very severe violence in dating relationships. The findings of this study suggest that universities must design and provide education programs that target the use of violence in interpersonal relationships. Some suggestions are offered for what these programs should include. 5 tables and 26 references