Lifetime physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, depression, and suicide attempts among Native American women.

Although there is preliminary evidence that violence against women and children may be particularly prevalent in some Native American communities, associations between abuse and substance abuse, mental health problems, and suicide attempts have rarely been studied in this population. This study examined lifetime and current physical and sexual abuse among 30 Native American women. Nearly half had experienced physical and/or sexual abuse as children, over half were sexually abused at some time in their lives, and over three-fourths were abused by a partner. All but four women (87%) had experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. Significant relationships were found among childhood abuse, substance abuse, and adult revictimization, and among cumulative lifetime abuse events, substance abuse, and depression. Further research is needed to examine abuse and relationships between abuse and health sequelae in Native American populations. An accelerated public health and community response is needed to address abuse issues in this community.