Firearm exposure and the health of high-risk intimate partner violence victims

Kellie R. Lynch, Dylan B. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rationale: The negative physical and mental health consequences of intimate partner violence (IPV) have been well-documented, as those who are exposed to trauma experience more physical health issues. Further, an abuser's direct access to a firearm drastically increases the risk for fatality, which can exacerbate ongoing stress and trauma in an abusive relationship. However, very little research has investigated the intersection of exposure to firearms and adverse health outcomes in the context of IPV. Objective. This study investigates the sensitivity of firearm exposure in IPV contexts by examining if abusive partner firearm ownership—regardless of actual use of a gun in the abuse—is associated with negative health outcomes. Methods. The research team administered questionnaires to IPV victims (N = 215) from six domestic violence shelters across rural and urban locations in a single state. Results. Having an abusive partner who owned a firearm was associated with significantly worse physical health—above and beyond IPV experienced in the relationship. Even so, IPV involving firearms was not significantly associated with physical health beyond partner firearm ownership. The relationship between partner firearm ownership and negative health outcomes was primarily attenuated by sleep disturbances among victims. Conclusions. The results provide initial information about the role that firearms play in adverse victim health beyond injuries (e.g., gunshot wounds) and fatalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113644
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume270
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • Gun violence
  • Health correlates
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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