A woman's drug and alcohol use has been found to increase her risk of experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV).
Objective: The study describes the rates of lifetime and current IPV among women awaiting care in an emergency department and explores the association between IPV and having a drug abuse problem, and IPV and having an alcohol abuse problem, after controlling for demographic factors and history of childhood victimization.
Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 143 low-level triaged women recruited from an inner-city emergency department.
Results: Nearly one-half reported ever experiencing IPV, and over 18% reported IPV during the year before the interview. A higher proportion of abused women reported a history of regular crack, cocaine, or heroin use and visiting shooting galleries or crack houses. Participants who were physically abused by their partner during the past year (15%, n = 21) were more likely than nonabused women (85%, n = 122) to report higher scores on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) (4.9 vs. 2.4), a measure of alcohol-related problems, and the Drug Abuse Severity Test (DAST) (3.0 vs. 1.3), a measure of drug-related problems. Sexually abused women (6%, n = 9) were more likely than their counterparts (94%, n = 134) to have significantly higher AUDIT scores (6.4 vs. 2.5). The findings have implications for how the intersecting public health problems of IPV and substance abuse should be taken into consideration in research and patient care protocols in emergency departments.