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David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Abused Women Less Likely to Have Stable Relationships
Fri Jan 21, 2005

FRIDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDayNews) -- Poor women who've suffered sexual or physical abuse at some time in their lives are less likely to maintain stable intimate relationships, says a study by sociologists at Johns Hopkins University and Penn State University.

The researchers surveyed more than 2,400 black, white and Hispanic women in Chicago, Boston and San Antonio.

Many of the women who'd been abused as adults said they'd decided to avoid marriage or cohabitation, at least temporarily. Women who were sexually abused when they were children were less likely to avoid relationships altogether. Instead, they tended to get involved in a series of short-term, often abusive, relationships.

Fifty-two percent of the women said they'd been physically or sexually abused at some point in their lives and 24 percent said they were sexually abused when they were children or adolescents. Of the women who'd never been abused, 42 percent were married, compared with 22 percent of the women who'd been abused at some point in their lives.

The study appears in the Jan. 21 issue of the American Sociological Review.

There's no evidence that rates of abuse have increased, but the number of women who are postponing intimate relationships may be increasing, study author Andrew Cherlin, the Griswold Professor of Public Policy at Hopkins, said in a prepared statement.

"What's changed over the past few decades is the social context of abuse. Women don't have to stay with abusive men any more because they have alternatives to marriage," Cherlin said.

More information
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about domestic violence.

See also PsychLinks Domestic Violence Resources.
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