Interpersonal violence in the lives of urban American Indian and Alaska Native women: implications for health, mental health, and help-seeking

Am J Public Health. 2006 Aug;96(8):1416-22. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.054213. Epub 2006 Jun 29.


Objective: We surveyed American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) women in New York City to determine the prevalence of 3 types of interpersonal violence among urban AIAN women and the behavioral health and mental health factors associated with this violence.

Methods: Using a survey, we questioned 112 adult AIAN women in New York City about their experiences with interpersonal violence, mental health, HIV risk behaviors, and help-seeking. The sampling plan utilized a multiple-wave approach with modified respondent-driven sampling, chain referral, and target sampling.

Results: Among respondents, over 65% had experienced some form of interpersonal violence, of which 28% reported childhood physical abuse, 48% reported rape, 40% reported a history of domestic violence, and 40% reported multiple victimization experiences. Overwhelmingly, women experienced high levels of emotional trauma related to these events. A history of interpersonal violence was associated with depression, dysphoria, help-seeking behaviors, and an increase in high-HIV risk sexual behaviors.

Conclusions: AIAN women experience high rates of interpersonal violence and trauma that are associated with a host of health problems and have important implications for health and mental health professionals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Battered Women
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Crime Victims
  • Depressive Disorder / ethnology
  • Domestic Violence / ethnology*
  • Domestic Violence / psychology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / ethnology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / psychology*
  • Inuit / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Rape / psychology*
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk-Taking
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Women's Health / ethnology*