Category: Violence / Aggression
With technological advances, electronic methods are often used as a form of communication in romantic relationships. Sexting, defined as sending sexually explicit content electronically (Drouin et al., 2013), is one such type of communication. A growing body of literature supported a positive association between sexting and various behaviors, including alcohol use and sexual aggression (Benotsch et al., 2013; Drouin et al. 2015). However, previous research investigating the role of sexting within romantic relationships was largely limited to samples of adolescents and college students (Benotsch et al., 2013; Drouin et al., 2015). The present study sought to extend this research to a sample of men arrested for domestic violence (DV). Specifically, the present study examined the prevalence of sexting, and the relation between sexting, sexual violence (SV) perpetration, and alcohol use and problems, in a sample of men arrested for DV.
Data were collected from 312 men arrested for DV and court-ordered to attend batterer intervention programs. Sexting was assessed with three items used in previous research (i.e., sent a sext, requested a sext, and been asked to send a sext; Temple et al., 2012). The sexual coercion perpetration subscale of the Revised Conflict Tactics Scales (Straus et al., 1996) assessed SV perpetration. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (Saunders et al., 1993) assessed alcohol use and problems, with a score of eight or more indicating at-risk drinking.
Of the sample, 60% requested a sext from someone, 55% reported being asked to send a sext, and 41% sent a sext. Thirty-eight percent of the sample perpetrated SV. A greater percentage of participants who perpetrated SV, relative to men who did not perpetrate SV, reported sending a sext (59% versus 30%; χ2 = 21.65, p < .001), requesting a sext (79% versus 49%; χ2 = 23.49, p < .001), and being asked to send a sext (72% versus 46%; χ2 = 18.02, p < .001). Further, at-risk drinkers, relative to drinkers not at-risk, had a higher prevalence of requesting a sext (72% versus 55%; χ2 = 7.72, p = .005) and being asked to send a sext (66% versus 51%; χ2 = 6.00, p = .014).
Findings from the present study are the first to provide evidence that sexting is prevalent among men arrested for DV. Moreover, men who perpetrated SV were more likely to engage in sexting than man who did not perpetrate SV. Understanding how electronic methods of communication, including sexting, are associated with harmful behaviors will inform intervention efforts. Implications and directions for future research will be discussed.
Autumn Rae Florimbio– Graduate Student, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Meagan Brem– Graduate Research Assistant, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
Hannah Grigorian– Graduate Research Assistant, University of Tennessee
JoAnna Elmquist– Graduate Student, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee
Ryan Shorey– Assistant Professor, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
Jeff Temple– University of Texas Medical Branch
Gregory Stuart– Professor, University of Tennessee