Intimate partner violence: prevalence, types, and chronicity in adult women

Am J Prev Med. 2006 Jun;30(6):447-57. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2006.01.016.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Domestic Violence / classification
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology