Examining Associations Between Strangulation and Depressive Symptoms in Women With Intimate Partner Violence Histories

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Intimate partner violence (IPV) is associated with poor mental health outcomes among women. Studies on IPV and mental health show that experiencing more than one type of IPV often enhances women's depression or depressive symptoms. However, most of these studies conceptualize IPV as physical, psychological, or sexual violence. Little is known about specific experiences of severe IPV, such as strangulation, that put victims at greater risk of lethality and serious injury and their association with women's depression. This study examined associations between IPV, strangulation, and depression among women using secondary data collected for a randomized clinical trial testing an integrated HIV-IPV prevention intervention for abused women. Women were recruited from healthcare service delivery organizations, Department of Health and Human Services, and family court. Women (n = 175) completed assessments on IPV, strangulation, mental health, social support, and self-esteem. The majority reported strangulation (n = 103) and depressive symptoms (n = 101). Women who experienced strangulation also reported more severe physical (p < .001), sexual (p < .001), and psychological (p < .001) abuse. However, in multivariate logistic regression with sociodemographics, violence variables, and strangulation, none of these variables were associated with a higher risk for depressive symptoms. Social support had a protective effect on depressive symptoms. Findings suggest strangulation is prevalent among abused women seeking services, warranting screening, assessment, and referral in these settings.

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