The impact of intimate partner abuse on women’s health in the Bowen basin and Mackay region of Central Queensland, Australia
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Objectives: To ascertain the prevalence of male-to-female partner abuse in the Bowen Basin and Mackay region and to identify the impact of this abuse on women's health status and help-seeking behaviour. Methods: A stratified random sample of 532 adult women living in intimate, heterosexual relationships was surveyed by telephone in June and July, 2007. The interview schedule included measures of physical and non-physical abuse by current partners, socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics of women and their partners, physical and mental health, and help-seeking. For most analyses, data were weighted to reflect the actual population distribution of the Bowen Basin region including Mackay. Results: Nine point two per cent of women had experienced some form of physical abuse and 29.1 had experienced some form of non-physical abuse at some time in their current relationship. Partner abuse had little impact on women's physical well-being at a population level. However, all forms of abuse were strongly correlated with negative impacts on women's mental health. Women subjected to physical abuse in the preceding 12 months were 16.1 times more likely to show evidence of severe psychological symptomatology and 5.0 times more likely to show evidence of depression. Conclusion: The study found significant negative mental health consequences for women experiencing any form of abuse and reluctance to seek counselling and support services. Support services and education and prevention programs must recognise that all forms of partner abuse, including non-physical forms, result in depression and severe psychological symptomatology which are likely to affect women's help seeking behaviour.
Journal of Rural and Tropical Public Health
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