Short-term relationships with violent men make women more prone to gender violence

Joyce Chen ‘23

Figure 1. Women tend to form stable relationships with men who exhibit nonviolent behavior in comparison to men who exhibit violent behavior. 

Violence against women is a common occurence worldwide. In many countries, women are sexually abused or suffer from human trafficking. However, more research is needed to uncover the underlying factors that predispose women to such violence. Researchers under Lídia Puigvert utilized the ‘Free Teen Desire’ experimental project to study the link between females’ attractions to males and future gender violence as a means to further prevent young girls and women worldwide from becoming victims of violence.  

 The survey was conducted in five different secondary schools in England, Cyprus, Spain, and Finland on a total of one hundred female students aged 13 to 16; the survey would provide insight on levels of attraction for sexual and romantic relationships with violent and nonviolent boys. In the experiment, the researchers utilized EVM, or experimental vignette-based methodology, to see the responses of female students to different profiles of boys. EVM presents hypothetical situations to measure the reactions and impressions of participants, thereby making it a reliable test. The test contained three different types of vignettes (A, B, and C), but for the study the researchers worked with vignette C. Every vignette set contained four vignettes, each one showcasing a boy with a description of his behavior. Two of the boys, boy 1 and boy 3, were described as violent with sexist attitudes towards women, while boy 2 and 4 had non-sexist behaviors. After reading each of the boy’s descriptions, the girls were then asked six questions based on  levels of interest. Such questions included: “Would you like to hook up with him at a party?” or “would other girls you know like to have a relationship with him?” Researchers used the Likert scale, which measured the responses using a scale from 1, meaning “totally not”, to a 6, meaning “totally yes.” The results concluded that the girls chose boys 1 and 3 for short-term relationships instead of romantic relationships. However, females chose to form stable long-term relationships with boys 2 and 4. Such results were most likely produced to the stereotype that violent boys are seen as more charming and exhilarating because of their rebellious nature, while nonviolent boys are less exciting. This explained why some girls still picked violent boys over non-violent boys. 

In conclusion, the study attempted to look into the psychological reasoning behind attraction and how to prevent women from falling for violent behavior found in certain males. It explored what type of relationship for which violent men were most likely to be chosen. In regards to the media and its publication of the man as the dominant figure in a relationship, many females tend to form sexual relationships with violent men and therefore expose themselves to becoming victims of gender violence. Judging from the results, the researchers can then begin to think of ways to prevent females from being victimized in an abusive relationship. 



  1. L. Puigvert, et al., Girl’s perceptions of boys with violent attitudes and behaviours, and of sexual attraction. Palgrave Communications, (2019). doi: 10.1056/s41599-019-0262-5
  2. Image retrieved from:

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