Background: Most intimate partner violence (IPV) prevalence studies do not examine the relationships between IPV types and the chronicity and severity of abuse.
Objectives: Delineate prevalence, chronicity, and severity of IPV among adult women.
Design: Retrospective cohort study conducted by telephone survey. Data were collected in 2003 to 2005 and analyzed contemporaneously.
Participants: English-speaking women (n=3568) aged 18 to 64 years enrolled in a U.S. health maintenance organization for 3 or more years. Response rate was 56.4%.
Main exposure: Physical, psychological, and sexual IPV were assessed using five questions from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey and ten items from the Women's Experience with Battering (WEB) scale.
Results: Most (3429) of the respondents had at least one intimate partnership as an adult. Of these, 14.7% reported IPV of any type in the past 5 years, and 45.1% of abused women experienced more than one type. Prevalence was 7.9% in the past year, while during a woman's adult lifetime, it was 44.0%. Depending on IPV type, 10.7% to 21.0% were abused by more than one partner; duration was <1 year to 5 median years; while in 5% to 13% of the instances, IPV persisted for >20 years. IPV rates were higher for younger women, women with lower income and less education, single mothers, and those who had been abused as a child.
Conclusions: The high prevalence of IPV across women's lifetimes in the previous 5 years and the previous year are documented. The present investigation provides new information of IPV chronicity, severity, and the overlap of IPV types over a woman's adult life span.