Effect of Gender-Based Violence on Mental Health Among a Sample of Haitian Women
Method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Haiti to examine gender based attitudes and IPV among Haitian women. A sub-sample that had experienced IPV (N = 513) was selected. Structural equation modeling was used to test relationships between IPV, mental health, familial support and childhood sexual abuse, adjusting for other independent variables.
Results: The mean age was 26.2 (SD = 5.9) years among the sample. Approximately 6% were HIV+ and 4% had syphilis. Around 10% of women reported childhood sexual abuse, and these had reported 2.6 times (95%CI: 1.15–6.0) more battering than rest of the sample. The median scores for good mental and physical health were 26 (SD = 4.4, 20-40) and 10 (SD = 3.1, 4-20) respectively, indicating relatively poor states. IPV was directly associated with poorer mental (β = -1.03, p < 0.001) and poorer physical health (β = 0.70, p < 0.001). A current or recent partner with drinking problems was associated with battery (β = 0.10, p < 0.05) and forced sex after IPV (β = 0.73, p < 0.001). Though significant in bivariate analysis, childhood sexual abuse was not significantly associated with IPV (β = 0.34, p > 0.05) in the multivariate analysis. Model diagnostics showed reasonable approximate fit (WRMR < 1, TLI = 0.71, CFI = 0.86, and RMSEA = 0.07).
Conclusions: Women who experience intimate partner violence have poorer mental health outcomes. These women may be coerced in risky sexual behaviors that increase their vulnerability to acquiring HIV or STI infections. Interventions targeting gender based violence are needed to prevent IPV and reduce its negative sequelae.