Association between physical partner violence, posttraumatic stress, childhood trauma, and suicide attempts in a community sample of women

Violence Vict. 2005 Feb;20(1):87-98.


Our objective was to estimate the prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) and to explore its association with childhood maltreatment, substance misuse, posttraumatic stress, and suicidal behavior in a representative community sample of women. IPV was operationalized as a "physical attack or beating by a spouse, boyfriend, or live-in partner." We surveyed 637 women in Memphis, Tennessee, by telephone survey. Sixteen percent reported ever experiencing IPV by a male partner, and 75% endorsed multiple assaultive acts. Of abused women, 5.9% met current PTSD diagnostic criteria, and an additional 11.8% were assessed with subthreshold symptoms. Abused women were more likely than other women to be divorced, to have less than 13 years education, to endorse high levels of childhood victimization, to have abused drugs and alcohol, and to have attempted suicide. Twenty-three percent of IPV+ (abused) women reported a suicide attempt at some time in their lives compared with 3% of IPV- (nonabused) women (p < .0001). Further, multiple logistic regression analysis showed that childhood sexual and emotional abuse and low educational attainment were the only significant predictors of IPV. These results suggest that in women who endorse IPV, careful inquiry of past abuse, trauma-related symptoms, suicidal behavior, and drug use may be important, so that interventions can be both timely and appropriate.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse*
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Domestic Violence / trends*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders
  • Suicide, Attempted* / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tennessee / epidemiology