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Domestic violence and mental health: Correlates and conundrums within and across cultures


  • Fischbach, Ruth L.
  • Herbert, Barbara


Gender-based violence, only recently emerging as a pervasive global issue, contributes significantly to preventable morbidity and mortality for women across diverse cultures. Existing documentation suggests that profound physical and psychological sequelae are endemic following intimate partner violence. The presentation of domestic violence is often culture specific. A new lexicon, prompted by the expansion of human rights analysis, describes particular threats to local women including dowry deaths, honor murder, sati, and disproportional exposure to HIV/AIDS as well as globally generic perils including abuse, battering, marital rape, and murder. While still fragmentary, accruing data reveal strengthening associations between domestic violence and mental health. Depression, stress-related syndromes, chemical dependency and substance (ab)use, and suicide are consequences observed in the context of violence in women's lives. Emerging social, legal, medical, and educational strategies, often culture specific, offer novel local models to promote social change beginning with raising the status of women. The ubiquity, gravity, and variability of domestic violence across cultures compel additional research to promote the recognition, intervention, and prevention of domestic violence that are both locally specific and internationally instructuve.

Suggested Citation

  • Fischbach, Ruth L. & Herbert, Barbara, 1997. "Domestic violence and mental health: Correlates and conundrums within and across cultures," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1161-1176, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:45:y:1997:i:8:p:1161-1176

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    Cited by:

    1. Ishida, Kanako & Stupp, Paul & Melian, Mercedes & Serbanescu, Florina & Goodwin, Mary, 2010. "Exploring the associations between intimate partner violence and women's mental health: Evidence from a population-based study in Paraguay," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(9), pages 1653-1661, November.
    2. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1378-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Hackman, Joseph & Maupin, Jonathan & Brewis, Alexandra A., 2016. "Weight-related stigma is a significant psychosocial stressor in developing countries: Evidence from Guatemala," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 55-60.
    4. Jeannie Annan & Christopher Blattman & Dyan Mazurana & Khristopher Carlson, 2009. "Women and Girls at War: Wives , Mothers, and Fighters in the Lord s Resistance Army," HiCN Working Papers 63, Households in Conflict Network.
    5. Tan, Su-Yin & Haining, Robert, 2016. "Crime victimization and the implications for individual health and wellbeing: A Sheffield case study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 128-139.


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