Detecting the Silent Victims: A Comparison of Two Different Measures of Domestic Violence in the Swedish Crime Survey (NTU) 2013 (303208)*Paul Fuehrer, Södertörn University
Thomas Hvitfeldt, The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention
Keywords: measurement of domestic violence, criminal victimization surveys, context sensitivity
The article presents a critical analysis of different types of criminal victimization surveys as a mode of measuring intimate partner violence (IPV). One important question concerns the definition of IPV, i.e., what sorts of violent behavior, in what specific social relations, constitute IPV. Another related question concerns how well a given definition, and the way it is operationalized in a survey, takes into account the special characteristics of this kind of violence, and does so in a way that helps the respondents to identify and recount different events as instances of IPV. This article initially considers some of the choices made in the annual Swedish Crime Survey (NTU) with regard to the definition, operationalization and measurement of IPV. In 2013, IPV was for the first time measured using two different sets of questions in the same survey. Firstly, the measurement was made using the same questions as had been employed in previous surveys. These focus primarily on incidents of violence, with the relationship between respondent and perpetrator being explored in follow-up questions. Secondly, IPV was measured using a newly developed set of questions loosely based upon the revised conflict tactics scale by Straus et al. (1996). This offers a unique opportunity to directly compare two different measurements of the prevalence of intimate partner violence in the same sample.
Preliminary findings indicate a considerably higher prevalence of exposure to physical IPV when using the measure based on the revised conflict tactics scale, 2 percent compared to 0.2 percent using the ordinary NTU-measure, i.e., that focused on exposure to crime overall rather than relational violence. Overall, the findings presented in this article, show the complexity involved in measuring IPV and the importance of adapting and adjusting the questionnaire with regard to the relationship between victim and perpetrator.