Abusive partners put women at greater sexual risk

Washington, Aug 7 (IANS) Women who have sex with physically or sexually abusive partners are at greater risk of being infected with sexually-transmitted diseases, researchers warn.

The level of sexual risk among females escalates along with the abusive behaviour in male partners, said the researchers from the University of Washington-Tacoma.

“Men who were physically and sexually abusive to women were more likely than non-abusive men to engage in behaviours that exposed them and their partners to sexually transmitted infections such as avoiding condoms and not being monogamous,” said lead author Erin Casey.

Conversely, men who were not physically or sexually abusive but who used controlling behaviour such as dictating who their partners could see or what they wore were no more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviours than men who were otherwise.

The team looked at patterns of risky sexual behaviour among heterosexual men aged 18 to 25, including some who self-reported using abusive or controlling behaviour in their relationships and others who did not.

The participants, recruited from Facebook and classified advertisements website Craigslist, were asked about the number of intimate partners and whether they paid for sexual services.

The study uncovered “disturbingly high” rates of abusive and controlling behaviour.

Nearly 37 percent of the participants reported using physically aggressive behaviour toward their partners and almost 29 percent said they had used sexual coercion in their relationships.

The findings, published in the Journal of Sex Research, highlight the need to consider a broad range of sexual behaviour in domestic violence and sexual risk prevention programmes.

“This reinforces the idea that when we try to assess for sexual risk, we have to look at a lot of different sexual behaviours and motivators than just condom use or monogamy,” the authors said.

According to co-author Katherine Querna, they wanted to analyse individual sexual and abusive behaviours to provide a more nuanced picture of how specific types of abuse may influence sexual risks.

“Sexuality is a venue through which people who use abuse can control their partners, so isolating those behaviours might help us to understand that,” she noted.



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