A 2-year longitudinal analysis of the relationships between violent assault and substance use in women

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1997 Oct;65(5):834-47. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.65.5.834.


Women experience alarming levels of physical and sexual assault, which may lead to escalation of substance use. Reciprocally, evidence from cross-sectional studies indicates that substance use may increase risk of assault. To date, directionality of this relationship remains unclear. This issue is addressed by the present 3-wave longitudinal study in which a national probability sample of 3,006 women were followed for 2 years. Dependent measures were obtained at each wave of the study and included questions about lifetime and new assault status, alcohol abuse, and drug use. Wave 1 use of drugs, but not abuse of alcohol, increased odds of new assault in the subsequent 2 years. Reciprocally, after a new assault, odds of both alcohol abuse and drug use were significantly increased, even among women with no previous use or assault history. For illicit drug use, findings support a vicious cycle relationship in which substance use increases risk of future assault and assault increases risk of subsequent substance use.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Rape / psychology
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data*
  • Recurrence
  • Risk
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Violence / psychology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*


  • Illicit Drugs