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Am J Public Health. 2006 Aug;96(8):1416-22. Epub 2006 Jun 29.

Interpersonal violence in the lives of urban American Indian and Alaska Native women: implications for health, mental health, and help-seeking.

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  • 1Institute for Indigenous Health and Child Welfare Research, School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle 98105, USA. tecamp@u.washington.edu



We surveyed American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) women in New York City to determine the prevalence of 3 types of interpersonal violence among urban AIAN women and the behavioral health and mental health factors associated with this violence.


Using a survey, we questioned 112 adult AIAN women in New York City about their experiences with interpersonal violence, mental health, HIV risk behaviors, and help-seeking. The sampling plan utilized a multiple-wave approach with modified respondent-driven sampling, chain referral, and target sampling.


Among respondents, over 65% had experienced some form of interpersonal violence, of which 28% reported childhood physical abuse, 48% reported rape, 40% reported a history of domestic violence, and 40% reported multiple victimization experiences. Overwhelmingly, women experienced high levels of emotional trauma related to these events. A history of interpersonal violence was associated with depression, dysphoria, help-seeking behaviors, and an increase in high-HIV risk sexual behaviors.


AIAN women experience high rates of interpersonal violence and trauma that are associated with a host of health problems and have important implications for health and mental health professionals.

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