Physical, sexual and emotional violence against women: A general practice-based prevalence study

Danielle Mazza, Lorraine Dennerstein, Vicky Ryan

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Objective: To determine the prevalence of domestic violence, childhood abuse and sexual assault experienced by women attending general practitioners. Design: A cross-sectional, questionnaire-based prevalence survey. Setting: 15 general practices in metropolitan Melbourne between November 1993 and February 1994. Subjects: 3026 women over the age of 18 attending for a consultation. Results: The response rate was 72%. Over a quarter of women in relationships had been victims of physical or emotional partner abuse in the previous year, one in 10 having experienced severe physical violence. Thirteen percent of women had experienced rape or attempted rape, 10% had been severely beaten during childhood and 28% had experienced childhood sexual abuse involving physical contact. The abuse had been disclosed to the woman's doctor by only 27% of those who had experienced partner or childhood physical abuse (mostly because the doctor had never asked) and 9% of those who had experienced sexual abuse (mostly because the woman did not see it as relevant to the consultation). Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of physical, sexual and emotional violence against women as well as poor communication about this violence to their general practitioners. Recommendation: Medical practitioners should be more proactive in questioning women about violence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-17
Number of pages4
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996

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