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Exploring gender differences in the patterns of intimate partner violence in Canada: a latent class approach
  1. Donna L Ansara,
  2. Michelle J Hindin
  1. Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Donna L Ansara, Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Post-doctoral research fellow, 615 N. Wolfe Street, E4035, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA; dansara{at}


Background There has been an ongoing debate about the extent and nature of gender differences in the experience of intimate partner violence (IPV). Disagreement about the appropriate definition of IPV is central to this debate.

Methods This study used latent class analysis (LCA) to map the patterns of physical violence, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviour, and examined whether LCA can better illuminate the gendered nature of this experience than conventional measures of IPV. Data from the 2004 Canadian General Social Survey were analysed, which included 8360 women and 7056 men 15 years of age and over who reported a current or ex-spouse or common-law partner.

Results Results revealed more variation in the patterns of IPV for women than for men. Six classes were found for women, whereas four classes were found for men. Women and men were equally likely to experience less severe acts of physical aggression that were not embedded in a pattern of control. However, only women experienced a severe and chronic pattern of violence and control involving high levels of fear and injury. For women and men, intermediate patterns of violence and control, and patterns describing exclusively non-physical acts of abuse were also found. The results also revealed substantial differences in the IPV subtypes for those reporting about a current versus an ex-partner.

Conclusion These results support the use of LCA in identifying meaningful patterns of IPV and provide a more nuanced understanding of the role of gender than conventional measures. Implications for sampling within IPV research are discussed.

  • Family violence
  • domestic violence
  • spouse abuse
  • Canada
  • gender studies SI
  • population surveys
  • public health epidemiology
  • social research
  • violence RB

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  • Funding This research was supported by a doctoral research award from the Institute of Population and Public Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Tom Symons Research Fellowship at Statistics Canada.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.