This study examined the consequences of physical or sexual victimization for women’s mental and physical health.
Violence directed at girls and women is a widespread social and health problem that may result in a host of deleterious outcomes for women, including both mental and physical outcomes. While a great deal of research has probed the association between violent victimization and various health outcomes, most of these studies have relied on small, nonrepresentative samples of women recruited from clinical populations. The current study drew on data from the Violence and Threats of Violence Against Women and Men in the United States, 1994 to 1996 survey, which employed telephone interviews of a national probability sample of 7,700 men and women in the United States. Participants answered questions about their fear of violence, experience of emotional abuse, and incidents of threatened or actual violence. Outcome variables under analysis were depressive symptomatology, concern for current safety, self-assessed health, and the occurrence of binge drinking. Results of statistical analyses indicated only a moderate association between physical and sexual victimization and health outcomes, with severity of physical assault having the greatest association with poor health outcomes. Greater depressive symptomatology was discovered among victims who reported their offender was someone they knew. Contrary to previous research findings, the life-course stage of victimization was not a significant predictor of health outcomes. Future research should work toward identifying the physical and mental health consequences of particular types of victimization. Tables, appendix, references