Polyvictimization Risk Among North Korean Refugee Women in South Korea

Boyoung Nam, Jae Yop Kim, Yujin Lee, Lisa Fedina

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2 Citations (Scopus)


North Korean (NK) refugee women living in South Korea are known to be vulnerable to interpersonal violence, but little is known about the possible link between or co-occurrence of acts of sexual violence (SV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrated against NK refugee women. This study examined the prevalence of polyvictimization and explored the association between SV in different settings (i.e., North Korea, intermediate countries, and South Korea) and various types of IPV. A convenience sample of 140 adult NK refugee women was analyzed, and logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the link between SV and polyvictimization in IPV. NK refugee women with a history of SV reported a significantly higher rate of IPV over the previous 12 months (51.2%) compared to those without a history of SV (20.4%). NK refugee women with a history of SV are significantly more likely to become victims of most forms of IPV. SV victimization in intermediate countries significantly increased the odds of being physically victimized by their male partners in South Korea (OR = 3.31, p =.05). An SV victimization history in North Korea (OR = 4.50, p =.04) and SV victimization experienced outside their intimate relationship in South Korea significantly increased the odds of sexual IPV from their current intimate partner (OR = 4.74, p =.03). This study showed that victims of human trafficking and sexual assault during their journey to South Korea were at a greater risk of IPV in South Korea. Male partners of NK refugee women with a history of SV may shame and physically sanction NK refugee women for “breaching honor.” Therefore, screening for potential risk of physical and sexual IPV among NK refugee women with a prior exposure to SV is needed to develop programs in safety planning for NK refugee women experiencing SV and IPV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)NP13518-NP13532
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number15-16
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Aug

Bibliographical note

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© 2021 SAGE Publications.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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