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J La State Med Soc. 2010 Sep-Oct;162(5):282, 284-8, 290.

Physically and sexually violent experiences of reproductive-aged women displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

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  • 1Department of Social Medicine, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, USA.



Measure the frequency of physical and sexual abuse in a sample of reproductive aged women displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and compare those experiences to the year before Hurricane Katrina.


Sixty-six English-speaking women aged 18-49 years residing in Louisiana Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) housing were screened for physical and sexual abuse seven to nine months after Hurricane Katrina, using modified 30x7 cluster sampling methodology.


Twenty-three percent (95% confidence interval [CI], 14, 34%) of women reported being hit or verbally threatened since Hurricane Katrina. Abuse had increased for 33% (95% CI, 13, 63%) and decreased for 13% (95% CI, 4, 37%) of women. Twenty percent (95% CI, 6, 51%) of abused women were with a new partner, while 13% (95% CI, 4, 39%) reported new abuse with the same partner. Four women reported sexual abuse since Hurricane Katrina. Compared to before the storm, the frequency of sexual abuse was the same for two women, and one reported new abuse with the same partner.


Physical abuse was not uncommon among displaced women following Hurricane Katrina. Increasing and new abuse were the most commonly reported experiences. Violence against women should not be overlooked as a continued, and perhaps escalating, occurrence requiring attention following displacement after disasters of such magnitude as Hurricane Katrina.

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