Online Program

Unique contributions of sexual violence victimization to poor health outcomes among women

Monday, November 4, 2013

Suzannah Creech, Ph.D., Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, RI
Melissa Dichter, MSW, Ph.D, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA
Existing research identifies an association between interpersonal violence and poor mental and physical health outcomes among women. There is some evidence that sexual violence, including forced and coerced sexual activity, may have particularly negative effects for women, yet there is scant literature identifying the unique contribution of sexual violence victimization compared with psychological or physical partner violence. To investigate the associations between specific forms of intimate violence (psychological, physical, and sexual) and women's health outcomes, we conducted face-to-face surveys with 249 women military veterans, ages 18-64, receiving care at a Veterans Affairs medical center. Women military veterans represent a vulnerable population that has been growing steadily in recent decades and is expected to continue to grow. Women veterans experience high rates of interpersonal trauma; depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, chronic pain, and other mental and physical health problems; as well as social problems such as homelessness and unemployment. We found high levels of a variety of health conditions and symptoms among women who had experienced each form of violence (psychological, physical, and sexual). Those who experienced sexual violence had the highest rates of poor health outcomes, compared with those who experienced no violence, psychological violence only, or physical violence without sexual violence, controlling for demographic characteristics of age, race, and income. This research holds implications for prevention and intervention policies and practices to address various forms of gender-based violence, particularly among an already vulnerable population, as well leading to a more nuanced understanding of the potential unique impacts of sexual violence.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare the health outcomes associated with each type of intimate violence. Discuss the potential unique contribution of sexual violence to poor health outcomes among women veterans. Describe two implications of the study findings – for healthcare policy, clinical intervention, research, and/or theory.

Keyword(s): Violence, Sexual Assault

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have an active area of research in the topic are of women’s victimization and health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.