Background: This study investigated the act of witnessing interparental violence as a girl and its association with experience of intimate partner violence later in life. A higher level of acceptance of violence was tested as an explanatory factor, in the light of learnt behaviour and gender socialisation theories.
Methods: This cross-sectional study used structured interviews for data collection. In all, 730 married women, aged 17-60, in rural Vietnam participated, with a response rate of 83 per cent. Bi- and multivariate analyses are presented.
Results: Sixteen per cent reported witnessing interparental violence as a child. Of these, 40 per cent had experienced physical/sexual violence in their relationship over time and 16 per cent in the past year. The risk of lifetime (OR 2.85; 1.88-4.34) and past-year physical and sexual violence (2.33; 1.31-4.10) respectively was significantly higher for those who had witnessed interparental violence during childhood than those with no such experience. Women with experience of interparental violence during childhood reported acceptance of violence within an intimate relationship to a higher extent than those with no such experience.
Conclusion: These findings should be understood within the frame of existing theories on social learning, learnt behaviour and the gender socialisation process. The findings further underscore the importance of the intergenerational effect and the need for preventative strategies focused on improving womenâ€™s autonomy, for gender equity, and for effective legislation that puts a stop to all kinds of violence against women.