In general, victims of repeated violence experience more serious consequences than victims of one-time incidents. Women with a history of intimate partner violence are more likely to display behaviors that lead to further health risks such as substance abuse, alcoholism, and suicide attempts. Intimate partner violence is also associated with a variety of negative health behaviors; studies show that the more severe the violence, the stronger its relationship to negative health behaviors by victims.
Some victims may engage in high-risk sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex, decreased condom use, early sexual initiation, choosing unhealthy or multiple sexual partners, or trading sex for food, money, or other items. There is often an increased use of harmful substances and illicit drug use, alcohol abuse, and driving while intoxicated. Victims of intimate partner violence may also engage in unhealthy diet-related behaviors such as smoking, fasting, vomiting, overeating, and abuse of diet pills. They may also overuse health services.
Women who experience severe aggression by men, such as not being allowed to go to work or school or having their lives or their children’s lives threatened, are more likely to have been unemployed in the past and be receiving public assistance (CDC, 2012a, 2003). They may have restricted access to services, strained relationships with healthcare providers and employers, and be isolated from social networks.
Psychological Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence