This study aimed to determine whether higher levels of personal and financial stress and/or lower levels of social support at one point in time are associated with a higher risk of experiencing physical violence at a later point in time.
Method: Logistic generalized estimating equations (GEE) and fixed effects modelling were used to examine the effect of personal stress, financial stress and social support on self-reported experiences of physical violence in the past year. The sample pooled 48,368 records from 9,393 women aged 15 years or more who participated in at least one wave of the Australian Household, Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) survey between 2002 and 2009. Alcohol consumption, age, marital status and whether pregnant in the previous year were controlled for in the analyses.
Results: Women were more likely to have experienced physical violence if they reported personal or financial stress, poor social networks, heavy alcohol consumption, were not married (or widowed) or were young. These associations held up both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Changes in personal stress, financial stress and partner status were also found to be associated with changes in the risk of experiencing physical violence.
Conclusion: Measures that reduce personal and financial stress or increase social support may help reduce the risk of women experiencing physical violence.