Clinical Impact of Intimate Partner Violence and Childhood Trauma on Psychiatric Disorders

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Aya Ibrahim Mohamed et. al


Gender-based violence – including physical, sexual, emotional and economic violence and abuse is widespread globally. The most pervasive form of gender-based violence is intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as domestic violence or partner/spouse abuse. On average, 30% of women worldwide will experience at least one episode of sexual and/or physical IPV within her lifetime; the incidence and prevalence of violence in relationships, however, varies greatly both between countries and regions, and between neighborhoods and villages. Decades of research have demonstrated that the health consequences of violence are cumulative and long term and extend far beyond injury. They include immediate and longer term physical and mental health outcomes such as chronic pelvic pain, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unwanted pregnancy, adverse pregnancy outcomes, suicidal ideation, depression and increased risk of homicide. Children and adolescents experience high rates of physical, sexual, and emotional maltreatment by caretakers. For instance, the 2013–2014 National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence indicated that 15% of children and teens experienced at least one form of child maltreatment (physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, or custodial interference or family abduction) in the previous year. Childhood physical and sexual maltreatment have been associated with a range of negative consequences, including both IPV perpetration and victimization. Studies such as these suggest a causal relationship between prior victimization and later perpetration of violence via the intergenerational transmission of violence or “the cycle of violence,” whereby children who experience family of origin violence are more likely to learn the utility of violence and model violence in their own relationships. According to this perspective, individuals who experience family of origin abuse may be more likely to accept violence as an expected aspect of interpersonal relationships and experience an increased risk of relationship violence victimization as well. Conversely, they may be at risk for perpetrating subsequent IPV because they have seen it modeled in their family environment.

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