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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

MIRANDA, Milma Pires de Melo; PAULA, Cristiane Silvestre de  and  BORDIN, Isabel Altenfelder. Life-long domestic violence against women: prevalence and immediate impact on health, work, and family. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2010, vol.27, n.4, pp. 300-308. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892010000400009.

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the lifetime prevalence of domestic violence against women (DVAW) in a low-income urban community and evaluate the immediate impact of DVAW on health, work, and family life. METHODS: The present cross-sectional study was carried out in the city of Embu (state of São Paulo, Brazil) as part of an international multicenter project (World Studies of Abuse in the Family Environment, WorldSAFE). A probabilistic sample of census sector-based clusters including all eligible households identified was used. A total of 784 women (age 16-49 years) with at least one child younger than 18 years and a lifetime resident husband/partner were included. We evaluated the occurrence of any kind of DVAW (slapping, kicking, hitting, beating, threatening to use or using a weapon, other aggressions mentioned spontaneously), of severe DVAW (same items, except slapping and other aggressions informed spontaneously), and of immediate impacts on the health, work, and family of the victims. RESULTS: The prevalence of DVAW was 26.0% for any kind of violence and 18.5% for severe DVAW. Among the victims of any kind of DVAW, 38.7% judged that they needed medical care, 4.4% were hospitalized, 18.1% were incapacitated for work (paid work or household chores), 51.5% left their partner due to the aggression and 66.7% had children who witnessed the violence. For severe violence, these rates were 51.0, 5.5, 23.4, 59.3 and 75.9%, respectively. Shame and fear of retaliation obstructed access to medical care. CONCLUSIONS: The frequency of DVAW is high in the studied community and produces immediate impacts on the victim's health, work, and family life. These impacts decrease the victim's ability to look for help and hinder the breaking of the cycle of violence.

Keywords : Domestic violence; violence against women; prevalence; impacts on health; psychosocial impact; Brazil.

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