Intimate partner violence at a tertiary institution
Background. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is actual or threatened physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or stalking abuse by an intimate partner. Despite the high prevalence of IPV in South Africa (SA), there is a paucity of data on university students training in fields where they are likely to have to manage the after-effects of such events in their personal capacity in the future.
Objectives. To ascertain the prevalence of IPV in an SA tertiary institution population with a diverse demographic profile.
Methods. Students from the faculty of health sciences and the faculty of humanities, social work department, completed an anonymous
questionnaire. Students were made aware of psychological counselling available to them.
Results. Responses were obtained from 1 354 of 1 593 students (85.0%) (67.8% female, 45.9% black, 32.7% white, 16.6% Indian, 4.8% coloured). Of the respondents, 53.0% indicated that they were in a relationship. The prevalence of any type of IPV (sexual, physical or emotional abuse) among all respondents was 42.6%. Emotional abuse was reported by 54.9% of respondents, physical abuse by 20.0% and sexual abuse by 8.9%. Thirty-five females (6.5% of respondents who had suffered IPV) indicated that they had been emotionally, physically and sexually abused. Fourteen percent identified themselves as perpetrators of abuse, but only three perpetrators of sexual abuse reported having also been victims of sexual abuse. Most respondents (58.7%) knew where to get help.
Conclusion. The extent of IPV among the medical and social work students sampled was found to be unacceptably high, both as victims and as perpetrators. As a result of their exposure to IPV, these individuals may have difficulty in managing patients who have been subjected to abuse.