The Role of Violence Acceptance and Inequitable Gender Norms in Intimate Partner Violence Severity Among Couples in Zambia

Shoshanna L. Fine, Jeremy C. Kane, Sarah M. Murray, Stephanie Skavenski, Saphira Munthali, Mwamba Mwenge, Ravi Paul, John Mayeya, Laura K. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Inequitable gender norms, including the acceptance of violence in intimate relationships, have been found to be associated with the occurrence of intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetration and victimization. Despite these findings, few studies have considered whether inequitable gender norms are related to IPV severity. This study uses baseline data from a psychotherapeutic intervention targeting heterosexual couples (n = 247) in Lusaka, Zambia, who reported moderate to severe male-perpetrated IPV and male hazardous alcohol use to consider: (a) prevailing gender norms, including those related to IPV; (b) the relationship between IPV acceptance and IPV severity; and (c) the relationship between inequitable gender norms and IPV severity. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to model the relationships between IPV acceptance and inequitable gender norms, and female-reported IPV severity (including threats of violence, physical violence, sexual violence, and total violence), separately among male and female participants. In general, men and women were similar in their patterns of agreement with gender norms, with both highly endorsing items related to household roles. More than three-quarters of men (78.1%) and women (78.5%) indicated overall acceptance of violence in intimate relationships, with no significant differences between men and women in their endorsement of any IPV-related gender norms. Among men, IPV acceptance was associated with a statistically significant increase in IPV perpetration severity in terms of threatening violence (B = 5.86, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.84, 9.89]), physical violence (B = 4.54, 95% CI = [0.10, 8.98]), and total violence (B = 11.65, 95% CI = [3.14, 20.16]). There was no association between IPV acceptance and IPV victimization severity among women. Unlike IPV acceptance, there was no evidence for a relationship between inequitable gender norms and IPV severity for either men or women. These findings have implications for the appropriateness of gender transformative interventions in targeting men and women in relationships in which there is ongoing IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • alcohol and drugs
  • anything related to domestic violence
  • domestic violence
  • domestic violence and cultural contexts
  • intervention/treatment
  • perceptions of domestic violence
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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