Academic journal article Advances in Mental Health

Intimate Partner Violence in the Young Cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health: Urban/rural Comparison and Demographic Associations

Academic journal article Advances in Mental Health

Intimate Partner Violence in the Young Cohort of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health: Urban/rural Comparison and Demographic Associations

Article excerpt

Introduction

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined as any 'behaviour within an intimate relationship that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including acts of physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours' (WHO, 2010, p. 11). The WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence emphasises the global significance of IPV. In the introduction to its report it states that 'violence against women is now widely recognised as a serious human rights abuse and increasingly as an important public health problem with substantial consequences for women's physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health' (Garcia-Moreno, Jansen, Ellsberg, Heise, & Watts, 2006, p. 1260). The WHO multi-country study results, drawn from population-based surveys conducted at 48 sites across the world, indicate that between 13-61% of women reported being physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives (WHO, 2010).

Direct comparison between IPV prevalence studies is often difficult due to differences in measures used, definitions of violence and the timeframes over which the IPV is measured. Lifetime prevalence of IPV includes any incident of violent behaviour that has ever occurred from a current or former intimate partner. Due to cultural differences, the age at which women first enter into intimate partnerships can vary widely between countries. In Australia, one of the few earlier population-based studies on IPV prevalence was the Australian component of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS). This study reported that 34% of women, aged 18- 69 years, who had ever had an intimate partner had experienced at least one form of violence from a partner (Mouzos & Makkai, 2004). In a smaller scale population-based telephone survey, conducted in South Australia, it was found that, in a sample of women (18-34 years old), 22.1% reported having experienced IPV from a former or current partner (Dal Grande, Hickling, Taylor, & Woollacott, 2003).

The health impacts of IPV have been widely documented and there is now extensive research to show that women who have lived with violent partners are more likely than other women to experience a range of both physical and psychological health conditions. Experiencing IPV has been linked to increased rates of physical symptoms such as: chronic pain, diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal disorders and musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis (Campbell, 2002; A. Coker, Smith, Bethea, King, & McKeown, 2000). Psychologically, women who have a history of violence from an intimate partner showed significantly increased likelihood of experiencing anxiety, depression and symptoms related to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Bonomi et al., 2006; Pico-Alfonso et al., 2006). There is also evidence to link IPV to increased health risk behaviours such as alcohol and substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal ideation (Devries et al., 2011; Dillon, Hussain, Loxton, & Rahman, 2013). Within Australia, intimate partner violence has been ranked as the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 18-44. It was found to be responsible for more preventable illhealth and premature death in these women than any other of the well-known risk factors, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking (Vos et al., 2006).

The occurrence of IPV has been associated with a range of demographic factors, such as lower levels of education (Cunradi, Caetano, & Schafer, 2002; Khalifeh, Hargreaves, Howard, & Birdthistle, 2013), income hardship (A. L. Coker, Paige, McKeown, & King, 2000; Van Wyk, Benson, Fox, & DeMaris, 2003) and poor social support (Dutton, Kaltman, Goodman, Weinfurt, & Vankos, 2005; Nybergh, Taft, Enander, & Krantz, 2013). There is also evidence from the USA that the prevalence of IPV increases with increasing rurality (Logan, Walker, Cole, Ratliff, & Leukefeld, 2003). …

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