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Research into violence among military personnel has not differentiated between stranger- and family-directed violence. While military factors (combat exposure and post-deployment mental health problems) are risk factors for general violence, there has been limited research on their impact on violence within the family environment. This study aims to compare the prevalence of family-directed and stranger-directed violence among a deployed sample of UK military personnel and to explore risk factors associated with both family- and stranger-directed violence.
This study utilised data from a large cohort study which collected information by questionnaire from a representative sample of randomly selected deployed UK military personnel (n = 6711).
The prevalence of family violence immediately following return from deployment was 3.6% and 7.8% for stranger violence. Family violence was significantly associated with having left service, while stranger violence was associated with younger age, male gender, being single, having a history of antisocial behaviour as well as having left service. Deployment in a combat role was significantly associated with both family and stranger violence after adjustment for confounders [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.92 (1.25–2.94), p = 0.003 and aOR = 1.77 (1.31–2.40), p < 0.001, respectively], as was the presence of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, common mental disorders and aggression.
Exposure to combat and post-deployment mental health problems are risk factors for violence both inside and outside the family environment and should be considered in violence reduction programmes for military personnel. Further research using a validated measurement tool for family violence would improve comparability with other research.
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