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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2014 Apr;23(4):302-9. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2013.4513. Epub 2014 Feb 7.

Women veterans and intimate partner violence: current state of knowledge and future directions.

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  • 11 Women Veterans Health Program, VA Boston Healthcare System , Boston, Massachusetts.


Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health concern for all; however, women who experience IPV are more likely to sustain injury and report adverse health consequences. An expanding body of research suggests that experience of IPV is common in women veterans (WV), particularly those who access Veterans Health Administration (VA) services. With unprecedented numbers of women serving in the military and subsequently becoming veterans, it is critical that clinicians and advocates caring for WV understand the impact of IPV on this population. WV have unique risk factors for experiencing IPV, including high rates of premilitary trauma, as well as military sexual trauma and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Correlates of IPV, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and homelessness, are common among this group. Although research on WV health and IPV is emergent, evidence suggests that IPV results in multiple health sequelae and increased healthcare utilization. In this context, we next discuss clinical and policy implications for VA. A number of targeted interventions and treatments are available for WV who experience IPV, including evidence-based mental health services. VA is well situated to implement screening programs for WV to facilitate referral to needed services and treatments available both within and outside its facilities. As the population of WV expands, future research will be needed to determine best practices; many avenues of inquiry exist. Finally, WV are strong and resilient; it is crucial that those who work with them recognize evidence of IPV and refer to needed services and evidence-based treatment to enable strength-based recovery.

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