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Women's Experiences of Violence and Seeking Help

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 15 Issue: 7 Dated: July 2009 Pages: 852-868
Date Published
July 2009
17 pages

This study explored women's experiences of victimization and their use of and perceptions about the services they received.


Findings in this study report higher levels of childhood and adult victimization, that violence between intimates is common, and that almost all women experienced physical intimate partner violence (IPV). Sexual violence in adulthood is also common; two thirds of the sample reported being raped. Childhood maltreatment is the least reported form of victimization, but was acknowledged by more than half of the women. Co-occurrence of four primary types of victimization (physical child abuse, sexual child abuse, physical IPV, and rape) was reported. When experiences of childhood sexual abuse and physical IPV were examined, significant differences across age, welfare receipt, and sample source were found. When examining the largest ethnic groups represented, Whites were most likely to experience physical IPV, followed by African-Americans. Latina women consistently reported the lowest levels of victimization. Women who have received welfare were significantly more likely than those who have not received welfare to experience childhood sexual abuse, adult IPV, and rape. Women in prison were more likely to report childhood sexual abuse and adult rape, whereas women from the domestic violence/sexual assault agencies reported higher rates of physical IPV. There were no significant differences found between demographic groups in the incidence of childhood physical abuse, nor in education levels for those reporting any of the four types of victimization. Data were collected from 423 women (157 women in prison, 157 receiving services from a domestic violence and/or sexual assault program, and 109 women who had not received services in the 12 months prior to the interview). Tables and references

Date Published: July 1, 2009