Objective: To explore self-rated physical and psychological health in two groups of women with substance misuse problems, subjected to male violence.
Methods: An examination of the health situation for women with substance dependence being exposed to male violence during life. The study took place in a Swedish context exploring data from 35 women with housing (WwH) and 44 homeless women (HW), regarding posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms, psychological and physical problems. Mann-Whitney U-test and Pearson’s correlation coefficient were used to calculate differences between groups and correlations.
Results: The proportion of women being exposed to male violence during life for the studied group was 91% (72 of 79 women; WwH 29; HW 43). It was found that the WwH had physical health problems but compared to the HW, significantly less frequent. Regarding psychological health problems, both groups were suffering from self-reported problems, most notably in variables measuring stress susceptibility and embitterment, where both WwH and HW had scores markedly above norm mean scores. The HW had overall a poorer mental health profile as compared to the WwH. The WwH still maintained a foundation in the society compared to the HW regarding housing (100/0%), and custody over their children (91/0%).
Conclusion: The study indicated that women with substance dependence and those who are victims of male violence have major problems with both their psychological and physical health. Particularly vulnerable are the HW. Past experiences of violence that have not been processed can further aggravate the women’s health. Thus, we suggest initiating the process of asking women if they have experienced violence in order to then be able to provide appropriate treatment interventions. For the WwH, this process may lead to a prevention of serious consequences for both their housing situation and for their health.
2013. Vol. 4, no 2