A new study finds that domestic violence affects women’s physical and mental health. Tell us something we don’t know.
A survey of more than 3,400 women found that 44 percent had experienced intimate partner violence. The more recent the violent incident and the longer it had persisted, the worse the victim’s physical and mental health and social network were likely to be, the researchers found.
In 5 percent to 13 percent of the women, domestic violence persisted for more than 20 years, with more than one partner responsible in 11 percent to 21 percent of the cases. Within the previous five years, 15 percent of the women had suffered from intimate partner violence, and 8 percent of the women had been affected within the previous year.
Compared to women with no such history, women recently victimized by violence were four times more likely to report symptoms of severe depression and almost three times more likely to report poor or fair health and more than one additional symptom. They were also likely to report lower social functioning.
Physical abuse — slapping, hitting, kicking, or forced sex — had a stronger impact on health that nonphysical abuse such as threats, chronic disparaging remarks, or controlling behavior. However, the researchers noted that both forms of abuse significantly damage women’s health and often occur together.
Domestic violence along with most kinds of violence tend to be cyclical. If it is an established pattern it is much harder to break and diagnose. Furthermore, domestic violence is an issue that cannot be located to a specific place, culture, race, ethnicity, class, etc. It is a problem in every community.