A study published in the February 2007 issue of The Gerontologist found that over a quarter of senior women have experienced domestic abuse in their lifetimes. This figure correlates with earlier estimates that one in four women will experience domestic violence sometime in their lives.
The average duration of abusive relationships was about 10 years, and most women endured two or more types of abuse (physical, sexual, psychological/verbal abuse).
The researchers found that health care costs for abused women are 19% higher than for non-abused women, and costs remained higher for over 5 years after the abusive relationship ended. Researchers also suggested that this figure is likely an underestimation of the percentage of women abused because women participating in this study group had more consistent health insurance and higher levels of education than average. Both these factors correlate with lower rates of domestic violence.
However, only 3% of these women had ever been asked by their health care providers about domestic violence. How can that be? Whenever I visit my doctor, she always asks about the possibility of abuse along with my possible use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs. I had assumed this was now a standard of care.
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