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Open Access Research article

Controlling behavior, power relations within intimate relationships and intimate partner physical and sexual violence against women in Nigeria

Diddy Antai

Author Affiliations

Center for Global & Population Health, The Angels Trust Nigeria, Casablanca Street, Wuse 2, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nigeria

Karolinska Institute, Department of Public Health, Division of Social Medicine, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:511  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-511

Published: 29 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Controlling behavior is more common and can be equally or more threatening than physical or sexual violence. This study sought to determine the role of husband/partner controlling behavior and power relations within intimate relationships in the lifetime risk of physical and sexual violence in Nigeria.

Methods

This study used secondary data from a cross-sectional nationally-representative survey collected by face-to-face interviews from women aged 15 - 49 years in the 2008 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey. Utilizing a stratified two-stage cluster sample design, data was collected frrm 19 216 eligible with the DHS domestic violence module, which is based on the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS). Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine the role of husband/partner controlling behavior in the risk of ever experiencing physical and sexual violence among 2877 women aged 15 - 49 years who were currently or formerly married or cohabiting with a male partner.

Results

Women who reported controlling behavior by husband/partner had a higher likelihood of experiencing physical violence (RR = 3.04; 95% CI: 2.50 - 3.69), and women resident in rural areas and working in low status occupations had increased likelihood of experiencing physical IPV. Controlling behavior by husband/partner was associated with higher likelihood of experiencing physical violence (RR = 4.01; 95% CI: 2.54 - 6.34). In addition, women who justified wife beating and earned more than their husband/partner were at higher likelihood of experiencing physical and sexual violence. In contrast, women who had decision-making autonomy had lower likelihood of experiencing physical and sexual violence.

Conclusion

Controlling behavior by husband/partner significantly increases the likelihood of physical and sexual IPV, thus acting as a precursor to violence. Findings emphasize the need to adopt a proactive integrated approach to controlling behavior and intimate partner violence within the society.