Objective: This study examined the health consequences of having experienced both sexual and physical abuse relative to women experiencing physical abuse but not sexual abuse.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 203 women seeking refuge in battered women's shelters. Controlling for sociodemographics, logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess the consequences of experiencing both sexual and physical abuse.
Results: Compared to women experiencing physical abuse, women experiencing both sexual and physical abuse were more likely to have a history of multiple sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in their abusive relationships, have had an STD in the past 2 months, be worried about being infected with HIV, use marijuana and alcohol to cope, attempt suicide, feel as though they had no control in their relationships, experience more episodes of physical abuse in the past 2 months, rate their abuse as more severe, and be physically threatened by their partner when they asked that condoms be used.
Conclusions: Given the prevalence of adverse health outcomes, domestic violence shelters could counsel women to avoid using alcohol/drugs as a coping strategy, educate women about alternative healthy coping strategies, counsel women about methods of STD prevention that they can control, and provide STD screening and treatment.