No one who is familiar with the dynamics of intimate partner violence will have been surprised by a study published last week, showing pervasive broader health implications for those affected.
The study revealed that victims of abuse were significantly more likely to be ill or depressed, to abuse drugs or alcohol, or to be engaged in unsafe sexual practices. The only surprise may be that the victims in this paper were men who have sex with men.
The review and meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine did not separate cause and effect. We cannot be sure what proportion of the negative health-related findings are a consequence, an accompaniment, or a cause of the violence.
Domestic abuse commonly causes injuries and harm far beyond the physical, leaving victims traumatised, terrorised, and often racked with self-loathing and misplaced guilt. That can manifest itself in passive and active self-destructive behaviour. This study marks an important reminder to health professionals and agencies that relationship violence is a notable factor in public health.
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