This study examined the co-occurrence of childhood sexual abuse, adult sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sexual harassment in a predominantly African American sample of 268 female veterans, randomly sampled from an urban Veterans Affairs hospital women's clinic. A combination of hierarchical and iterative cluster analysis was used to identify 4 patterns of women's lifetime experiences of violence co-occurrence. The 1st cluster experienced relatively low levels of all 4 forms of violence; the 2nd group, high levels of all 4 forms; the 3rd, sexual revictimization across the lifespan with adult sexual harassment; and the 4th, high intimate partner violence with sexual harassment. This cluster solution was validated in a theoretically driven model that examined the role of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a mediator of physical health symptomatology. Structural equation modeling analyses revealed that PTSD fully mediated the relationship between violence and physical health symptomatology. Consistent with a bio-psycho-immunologic theoretical model, PTSD levels more strongly predicted pain-related physical health symptoms compared to nonpain health problems. Implications for clinical interventions to prevent PTSD and to screen women for histories of violence in health care settings are discussed.
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