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Am J Public Health. 2006 Aug;96(8):1409-15. Epub 2006 Jun 29.

Interpersonal violence among women seeking welfare: unraveling lives.

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  • 1Alcohol Research Group, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA.



Exposure to violence is a widespread problem among women who receive welfare benefits. Research has focused on partner violence among women with children on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), ignoring low-income women without dependent children who are eligible for General Assistance (GA).


We report findings from a survey of 1235 women seeking TANF (N=1095) and GA (N=140) throughout a California county.


Estimates of recent physical, sexual, and severe violence were high in both populations. However, the highest rates occurred among women without children seeking GA, suggesting that they are at higher risk for sexual violence and more severe forms of physical violence, especially from intimate partners. This increased risk is partly accounted for by the co-occurrence of other serious health and social problems. In multivariate analyses, past-year violence was associated with substance use (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=2.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.5, 2.9), recent homelessness (AOR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.4, 2.6), family fragmentation including divorce or separation (AOR=3.1, 95% CI 1.8, 5.2), or foster care involvement (AOR=2.2, 95% CI=1.1, 4.5)


Welfare reform created TANF programs to address domestic violence. Women seeking GA may need similar services because of the high prevalence of violence.

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