The study results may surprise people, but the findings reflect what experts have seen clinically for years, said Dr. Juley Fulcher, director of policy programs for Break the Cycle, an organization devoted to addressing dating violence in youth.
The findings do add to what Fulcher said is a scarcity of research in this area. "There's been limited research specifically on older women," said Fulcher, an adjunct professor of women's studies at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
While some women in Mouton's study reported only physical or only verbal abuse, Fulcher said that's not the typical scenario. "Most commonly, we are talking about some combination of physical, verbal and sexual abuse," she said.
In a second study, published in the same issue of the journal, New Zealand researchers found that social contact is as effective as physical activity in lifting the mood of depressed older people. The researchers assigned 193 people, aged 75 and older, who had depressive symptoms to either engage in an individualized physical activity program or to receive social visits.
Both groups improved in measures related to mood and mental health.
To learn more about preventing domestic violence, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
SOURCES: Charles Mouton, M.D., professor, community and family medicine, Howard University, Washington, D.C.; Juley Fulcher, Ph.D., J.D., director, policy programs, Break the Cycle, and adjunct professor, women's studies, Washington, D.C.; May/June 2010, Annals of Family Medicine
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