Objective: To determine the prevalence and socio-demographic associations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse by a partner or ex-partner for women attending Australian general practices.
Method: In 1996, women attending 20 randomly chosen Brisbane inner south region general practices were screened for a history of partner abuse using a self-report questionnaire. Multivariate analyses were conducted on the data, using presence of abuse or not adjusting for cluster effect to obtain prevalence rate ratios for socio-demographic background data and history of violence in the family of origin.
Results: Thirty-seven per cent (CI 31.0-42.4) of the survey participants (n = 1,836, response rate 78.5%) admitted to having ever experienced abuse in an adult intimate relationship. One in four women (23.3%) had ever experienced physical abuse, one in three (33.9%) emotional abuse and one in 10 (10.6%) sexual abuse. Abused women were 64.1 (Cl 44.4-94.1) times more likely to have ever been afraid of any partner than non-abused women. Of women in current relationships (n = 1,344), 8.0% self-reported physical or emotional or sexual abuse in the past 12 months and 1.5% all three types of abuse. Associations of abuse included being younger (< 60 years), separated or divorced, having a history of child abuse or domestic violence between their parents.
Conclusion: Partner abuse is very common in women attending general practices and clinicians need to be alert to possible indications of partner abuse (age, marital status, past history of abuse).