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Native American Women Suffer High Rates of Domestic Abuse

Poverty means they are more likely to be hurt by partners, study says

MONDAY, May 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Rates of domestic abuse among low-income Native American women are much higher than among average American women, says a study in the current issue of BMC Medicine.

The University of New Mexico and University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center study found low-income Native American women are at least twice as likely as average women to be physically or sexually assaulted by their partner.

That risk of domestic abuse was much greater for low-income Native American women if they lived in extremely poor socioeconomic circumstances.

The study included 312 Native American women who visited a clinic for low-income pregnant and childbearing women. More than half the women reported they'd been assaulted by a partner during their lifetime and one in eight of the women said they'd been raped by a partner.

Thirty-nine percent of the women reported they'd been severely assaulted by a partner. This included being kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, choked or hit with an object. One in five of the women said they'd been beaten up and one in 10 had been threatened with a gun or knife.

Thirty percent of the women currently in a relationship had been abused by their partner during the previous year and more than half of them had suffered injuries as a result of abuse.

"These rates are far higher than population-based national and state estimates for reproductive age U.S. women," the study authors wrote.

"The severely depressed socioeconomic conditions under which a disproportionate percentage of Native American families live may explain their higher rates of 'intimate partner violence,'" they wrote.

More information

The National Library of Medicine has more about domestic violence.

SOURCE: BMC Medicine, news release, May 23, 2004
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