Domestic violence reported by women attending a sexually transmitted disease clinic

Sex Transm Dis. 2001 Mar;28(3):143-7. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200103000-00004.


Background: Domestic violence occurs across all social, demographic, and economic strata of society, though women who report it are disproportionately young, unmarried, live with a male friend or family member other than a husband, engage in substance abuse, and are poor.

Goal: To assess the prevalence of domestic violence among a sample of women presenting for care at a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic, and to identify behavioral and clinical correlates of domestic violence in this group.

Study design: Women attending an inner-city STD clinic were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire that ascertained demographic, clinical, and behavioral information. Questions regarding recent and lifetime physical and verbal abuse by a social intimate were included. Standard diagnostic tests and therapy for a variety of genitourinary infections were provided when indicated as a matter of routine care.

Results: Three hundred and seventy-five female clinic attendees completed the questionnaire. One hundred and forty one (37.6%) women reported ever having experienced physical assault by an intimate, and 123 (32.8%) reported verbal threats of violence. Fifty-eight (15.5%) women reported at least one episode of physical abuse in the year preceding participation. A report of physical violence was associated with drug use, STD history, and a history of a serious medical condition (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: The high prevalence of domestic violence among women seeking care at an inner-city STD clinic suggests that these sites may be important for the detection of abuse victims. Clinic staff should be trained to inquire about domestic violence. On-site or referred resources (e.g., legal, social, clinical) should be made available to these women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health