The aims of this study were to investigate the type and extent to which women with substance abuse problems have been exposed to male violence during their lifetime, and to examine possible differences between women with a residence (WR) and homeless women (HW). The total sample included 79 women (WR, n = 35; HW, n = 44; M age = 47.8 years). Of the total sample, 72 women (91%) had experienced different kinds of male violence, 88% from former partners, and 26% from male friends or acquaintances. Of the 72 women, 71% further reported "Countless occasions of violent events," and 36% had been forced to commit criminal acts. Abused women who had been forced to commit criminal acts were significantly more frequently found to be homeless, have reported parental alcohol and/or drug problems, have witnessed domestic violence in childhood, have been victims of sexual violence, have used illicit drugs as a dominant preparation, and have injected illicit drugs. Almost half of the abused women (46%) met criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), where HW showed an almost 4-time higher risk (RR 3.78) than WR. In conclusion there is a particular vulnerability in women with substance abuse to male violence, which has an important impact on their health status. Thus, from a public health perspective, it is suggested that for those women who have experienced male violence, treatment protocols need to include both assessing and addressing the impact of such experience in relation to substance abuse as well as concomitant health concerns.
Keywords: PTSD; criminal activity; homelessness; male violence; public mental health; substance abuse problems; women with a residence.