Childhood abuse as a risk for partner abuse among women in methadone maintenance

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1997 Nov;23(4):581-95. doi: 10.3109/00952999709016897.


This study examines the relationship between childhood abuse and partner abuse among a sample of predominantly African-American and Hispanic women, who were patients in methadone clinics in Harlem and the South Bronx. A structured questionnaire addressing demographics, psychosocial and physical health characteristics, depression, childhood abuse, and domestic violence was administered to 151 women. Over half of the women (60%, n = 98) reported lifetime physical, life-threatening, or sexual abuse by a spouse or boyfriend. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to assess the associations between childhood physical abuse and abuse by a spouse or boyfriend and between childhood sexual abuse and abuse by a spouse or boyfriend. After controlling for potential confounders, women who reported childhood physical abuse were almost nine times more likely to report having been abused by a spouse or boyfriend (OR = 8.74, CI, = 3.25 to 23.57). Women who reported childhood sexual abuse were almost four times more likely to report having been abused by a spouse or boyfriend (OR = 3.93, CI = 1.46 to 10.59). Depression and need for social support were significantly associated with partner abuse, while current heroin use was inversely associated with partner abuse. The high rate of domestic violence and the strong association between childhood and partner abuse found in this study suggest areas for intervention in chemical dependency among women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Methadone / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotics / therapeutic use*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Narcotics
  • Methadone