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The Link Between Intimate Partner Violence, Substance Abuse and Mental Health in California

August 1, 2011

Policy Brief

Authors: Elaine Zahnd, PhD, May Aydin, PhD, David Grant, PhD, Sue Holtby, MPH

This policy brief presents findings on the linkages between intimate partner violence (IPV), emotional health and substance use among adults ages 18-65 in California.

Using data from the 2009 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), researchers found that of the 3.5 million Californians who reported ever being the victim of intimate partner violence (IPV), more than half a million (594,000) reported experiencing recent symptoms of "serious psychological distress," which includes the most serious kinds of diagnosable mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression. Adult victims of IPV were more than three times as likely as unexposed adults to report serious psychological distress in the past year. Victims of IPV were also far more likely than non-victims to engage in coping strategies, such as seeking mental health care or binge drinking. These disturbing findings can aid strategies to identify, intervene with and assist IPV victims who experience emotional and/or substance use problems.

This policy brief was funded by The Blue Shield of California Foundation.

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