The long-term effects of battering on women's health

Womens Health. Spring 1998;4(1):41-70.


We examined the effects of intimate violence on the physical and psychological health of women over time. Changes in levels of physical and psychological abuse, injuries, physical health symptoms, anxiety, and depression were assessed three times: immediately after exit from a domestic violence program and at 81/2- and 141/2-month follow-ups. Analyses showed a significant decline in abuse, physical health symptoms, anxiety, and depression over time. Longitudinal structural equation modeling demonstrated that ongoing abuse was significantly related to increased physical and psychological health problems from one time period to the next, even when prior levels of physical and psychological health were controlled. Within each time interval, the effects of abuse on physical symptoms appeared to be mediated through anxiety and depression; although this relationship was replicated at several time points, the mediation was not verified across time, probably because measurement intervals were too long to reflect the underlying causal sequence. Although injuries were the direct result of abuse, injuries showed no significant effect on physical symptoms, anxiety, or depression. Implications for intervention and future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety
  • Battered Women / psychology*
  • Consumer Advocacy
  • Demography
  • Depression
  • Domestic Violence
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Models, Statistical
  • Research
  • Women's Health*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology