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Intersections of Harm and Health: A Qualitative Study of Intimate Partner Violence in Women's Lives

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 14 Issue: 11 Dated: November 2008 Pages: 1252-1273
Kristie A. Thomas; Manisha Joshi; Eve Wittenberg; Laura A. McCloskey
Date Published
November 2008
22 pages
This study examined Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and how it affected women's health.
Results indicate that the pathways linking IPV and health are often bidirectional and cyclical, ultimately resulting in compromised health quality over the long term. Three overall pathways between IPV and health emerged: IPV directly produces adverse health effects; IPV worsens already compromised health; and ill health and disability increase dependency on abusive partners. Women described myriad ways that these three pathways played out in their lives. Although the mechanism can be subtle at times, most participants were aware of the connection between IPV and their health. In the first pathway, violence from partners leads to the development of serious health conditions, disabilities, and disfiguring injuries. The second pathway that emerged illustrated the role of IPV as a compounding or worsening agent to women's health. The third pathway linking IPV and health highlighted the bidirectional nature of the association: Women with poor health expressed heightened dependence on abusive partners, leading them to remain in the relationship and subsequently continue their exposure to emotional and physical violence. Data were collected from 40 women from 8 Philadelphia social service agencies who each participated in 1 of 8 focus groups. The women's mean age was 43 years old; 79 percent self-identified as African-American, 8 percent as White, 5 percent as Latina, and 8 percent as multiracial or ethnic. Table, figure, references, and appendices