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Intimate partner violence against young women: prevalence and associated factors in Europe
  1. Belén Sanz-Barbero1,2,
  2. Patricia López Pereira3,
  3. Gregorio Barrio1,
  4. Carmen Vives-Cases2,4
  1. 1 National School of Public Health, Institute of Health "Carlos III", Madrid, Spain
  2. 2 CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain
  3. 3 University Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Madrid, Spain
  4. 4 Public Health Research Group, Department of Community Nursing, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, History of Science Alicante University, Alicante, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Belén Sanz-Barbero, Escuela Nacional de Sanidad, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Madrid 28029, Spain; bsanz{at}


Background The magnitude of intimate partner violence (IPV) in young women is a source of increasing concern. The prevalence of IPV has not been analysed in Europe as a whole. The objective was to assess the prevalence and main characteristics of experiencing physical and/or sexual and psychological-only IPV among young women in the European Union and to identify individual and contextual associated risk factors.

Methods We analysed a cross-sectional subsample of 5976 ever-partnered women aged 18–29 years from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Violence Against Women Survey, 2012. The main outcomes were current physical and/or sexual IPV and lifetime psychological-only IPV. Risk factors were assessed by the prevalence ratio (PR) from multilevel Poisson regression models.

Results Current prevalence of physical and/or sexual IPV was 6.1%, lifetime prevalence of psychological-only IPV was 28.7%. Having suffered physical and/or sexual abuse by an adult before age 15 was the strongest risk factor for IPV (PR: 2.9 for physical and/or sexual IPV, PR: 1.5 for psychological-only IPV). Other individual risk factors were: perceived major difficulties in living within their household income (PR: 2.6), having children (PR: 1.8) and age 18–24 years (PR: 1.5) for physical/sexual IPV and immigration background for psychological-only IPV (PR: 1.4). Living in countries with a higher prevalence of binge drinking or early school dropout was positively associated with IPV.

Conclusions Findings show that the fight against violence in young women should consider individual characteristics, childhood experiences of abuse and also structural interventions including reduction of alcohol consumption and improvement in the education-related indicators.

  • intimate partner violence
  • young adult
  • Europe
  • cross-sectional study
  • multilevel analysis

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  • Contributors BS-B and CV-C conceived of the presented idea. BS-B developed the design and BS and PL performed the computations. All the authors contributed to the interpretation of the results. BS-B and CV-C took the lead in writing the manuscript. All authors discussed the draft version and provided critical feedback and contributed to the final manuscript.

  • Funding This paper was partially supported by the ISCIII Network on Addictive Disorders (Networks for Cooperative Research in the Carlos III Health Institute) (grant numbers RD16/0017/0013 and RD12/0028/0018).

  • Disclaimer This article presents independent results and research. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Detail has been removed from this case description/these case descriptions to ensure anonymity. The editors and reviewers have seen the detailed information available and are satisfied that the information backs up the case the authors are making.

  • Ethics approval European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights approved this secondary data analysis project and provides an special licence for this purpose (reference number 93210).

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