Background: Our objectives for this exploratory study were (1) to assess the prevalence in a family practice of violent victimization of women and men by partners, friends, families, and strangers, and (2) to compare the physical symptoms, depression, alcohol use problems, and social support of women and men who were or were not victimized in the previous 12 months.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, multicenter study of family practice patients (1999-2000). One-thousand twenty-four patients, including 679 women and 345 men from 18 to 64 years of age completed a standard health history and a demographic questionnaire. The health history questionnaire included a question about violent victimization.
Results: Violent victimization was reported by 9.9% of the women and 10.9% of the men. Patients who were victimized were grouped into those who were victimized by partners (4.9% of women and 3.0% of men); by friends, or family, or strangers (2.3% of women and 5.0% of men); or by more than one category of persons other than partners (2.6% of women and 3.0% of men). Almost one third of patients victimized by partners were also victimized by another person. Women who were victimized had more physical symptoms than women who were not victimized. Women who were victimized and men who were victimized by their partners had more depressive symptoms than other women and men. Patients who were victimized by more than one category of other victimizers reported more alcohol use problems than other patients. Patients who were victimized reported less social support than patients who were not victimized.
Conclusions: Both women and men report violent victimization in response to a screening question. Violence by partners and by others is related to physical and psychiatric symptoms in women and in men.