Government and Regulations

Studies Reveal an Increased Risk for Intimate Partner Violence Among Female Veterans

Data analysis from 2 studies showed female veterans are at high risk for intimate partner violence and associated depression, PTSD, alcohol dependence, and other mental health conditions.



Two different studies from VHA researchers conducted among female veterans seek to increase health care provider knowledge of intimate partner violence (IPV) and understand its relationship to military service.

The first study, conducted by Katherine M. Iverson, PhD, and colleagues, was published in the November-December 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. After distributing a survey to 700 female VHA patients in New England, 160 women indicated that they had been involved in an intimate relationship within the past year. The survey screened for 4 measures: IPV; mental health (depression, PTSD, alcohol dependence, mental health multimorbidity), military sexual trauma (MST), and demographics (race, education, marital status, service branch, and rank).

Related: Does Childhood Abuse Impact the Health Care Use of Women Veterans?

About 37% of respondents reported IPV. These respondents were 3.21, 2.75, and 3.06 times more likely to experience PTSD, depression, and alcohol dependence, respectively; and 3.67 times more likely to experience mental health multimorbidity than women who didn’t report IPV.

The second study, conducted by Melissa E. Ditcher, PhD, MSW, and colleagues, was published in the November 2015 edition of Military Medicine. Results of a face-to-face survey at the Philadelphia VAMC showed IPV was associated with deployment. Women who had been deployed were more than twice as likely to experience psychological IPV during service.

Related: What to Do When You Suspect Domestic Violence

Both studies push for reforming the training of health care individuals who work with female veterans and for more support for those who have experienced IPV before, during, and after military service in the hopes of protecting them from physical and mental health conditions.

According to Ditcher and colleagues, military service may be associated with “unique forms or impacts of IPV, and is also associated with high rates of sexual assault.” Iverson and colleagues agree, urging the screening for IPV among female veterans and ensuring their access to mental health services.

Related: PTSD in Women and Men

Iverson KM, Vogt D, Ditcher ME, et al. J Am Board Fam Med. 2015;28(6):772-776.
doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2015.06.150154.

Ditcher ME, Wagner C, True G. Timing of intimate partner violence in relationship to military service among women veterans. Mil Med. 2015;180(11):1124-1127.
doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00582.

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