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Are women with a history of violent experiences more likely to have risky sex?
Date:5/8/2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Women who have experienced multiple forms of violence, from witnessing neighborhood crimes to being abused themselves, are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, according to a new report in the Psychology of Violence.

Researchers from The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine say certain patterns of violence in both childhood and adulthood may make a woman more likely to take significant sexual risks, such as having unprotected sex or a high number of sexual partners.

The findings offer new insight on the known link between exposure to violence and HIV/STD risk behavior, particularly among low-income, urban women, who may experience high rates of violence.

"Sadly, our results show that many women must cope with multiple forms of violence, and that some combinations of violent experiences put women at risk for HIV, other STDs or unplanned pregnancy not to mention the risks from the violence itself," said lead author Jennifer Walsh, Ph.D., of The Miriam Hospital's Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine.

Although previous research has linked sexual risk behavior and diverse forms of violence including childhood maltreatment and sexual abuse, intimate partner violence and exposure to community violence very few studies have considered patterns of violence and their impact on sexual risk-taking, even though some women experience multiple types of violence.

The current study included 481 women attending an urban STD clinic who were assessed for previous history of violence and current sexual risk-taking behaviors. The women were primarily African American and most were socioeconomically disadvantaged. Overall, women reported high rates of exposure to violence compared to the general population. All types of violence were interrelated, with women who experienced one type of violence being more likely to experience other forms as well.

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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
401-793-7484
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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