Behavioral Health, Mental Health, Substance Abuse
Emotional Abuse and HIV-Related Psychosocial and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Black Women
(School of Public Health (UMD) Behavioral and Community Health Doctoral Student)
African American/Black (Black) women are disproportionately affected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Moreover, physical and sexual abuse, more so than emotional abuse, have been consistently associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related psychosocial and sexual risk behaviors. However, while emotional abuse is more common than physical and sexual abuse among Black women, there is a scarcity of research examining whether recent emotional abuse is associated with psychosocial and sexual risk factors for HIV among Black women; and this is the issue to be addressed in this study. Participants included a diverse sample 161 Black women who were volunteer participants in a multi-session HIV and substance use prevention program, and who completed a self-reported assessment at program baseline. While 14% reported recent physical abuse and 10% reported recent sexual abuse, 25% of women reported emotional abuse in the past three months. Stepwise logistic regression showed that recently experiencing any physical/sexual abuse was significantly associated with emotional abuse (p < 0.05), while recent emotional abuse was associated with recent physical or sexual abuse, depression, and unprotected sex (p’s < 0.05). Findings confirm that emotional abuse is more common than physical or sexual abuse among Black women and suggest that recent emotional abuse may indicate psychosocial and sexual vulnerability for HIV. Recent emotional abuse, not just physical or sexual abuse, warrants particular attention among Black women.