Aimee McLeod: Contribution of fish intake to the nutritional quality of young women's diets and implications for mercury intakes

Little systematic research has been conducted in Australia to develop a picture of mid-aged women's experiences of violence and abuse across their lifetime. The present study was designed to address this deficiency by assessing the prevalence rates of different types of abuse, the situations in which they occur, how women coped, and the effect of abusive encounters on general health and well-being. Measures included descriptive variables, the SF-36 physical and mental health summary measures, the GHQ-12 instrument for psychological distress, and the CES-D depression scale. Using self-report questionnaires, data were obtained from 1159 mid-aged women previously recruited in the The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health longitudinal project. The most frequently reported forms of abuse were emotional, physical and sexual. These overwhelmingly occurred in the home across all life stages, but mostly in adulthood and on an occasional or weekly basis. Almost all perpetrators were persons known to the victim and many women were afraid for their personal safety. Most abusive encounters persisted over time and were attributed to the personality of the perpetrator, alcohol, relationship problems, or financial concerns. The majority of women had discussed their circumstances with close relatives, friends, or professional persons, and one-third of respondents had reported abusive episodes to the police. Criterion measures of poorer physical and mental health, psychological distress, depression, and subjective perception of negative effects were predicted by frequent, but non-recent, abuse in adulthood that had continued over time and was most likely to be physical mistreatment or harassment. Other predictors were perpetrators being a blood relative, spouse, partner, or some other known person, wanting to leave the situation but not being able, and talking to professional counselling providers but not intimate confidants. It is recommended that wider recognition of gendered abuse and its impact on psychological functioning would be useful for sensitive intervention strategies implemented by social welfare agencies and private consultants.