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When do Women Who Live with Domestic Violence Seek Health Services?

By Martha Hijar, Leticia Avila-Burgos, Rosario Valdez-Santiago

Injuries caused by domestic violence present a significant challenge to the health system.  The main objective of this study conducted in Mexico was to identify the factors associated with health services utilization by women because of partner abuse.

  • Participants were women users of public health services from throughout Mexico in 2003. 94% belonged to the very low and medium socio-economic levels; and almost half of them (47%) did not have health insurance.
  • Women over 14 years old who went to the medical facilities for any kind of health care services were given questionnaires to find out about the use of health services for injuries due to partner abuse during the previous 12 months.
  • 24,958 women utilized health services.  21% reported experiencing partner abuse in the previous year. From those women, only 7.3% utilized health services for injuries due to partner abuse.
  • More than 80% reported having a partner at the time, and 7.6% of them reported experiencing severe violence.
  • From those who had injuries, 72% reported one minor injury (bruises, body aches), 25.5% reported more than one type of injury, from which 10.8% were severe and required surgery or hospitalization. Less than 6% of abused women talked with the health staff about their abuse and the main reason was the lack of trust.
  • The study results suggest that only a low percentage of abused women injured utilize formal medical care. 
  • In addition, there is a large group of vulnerable women who do not use health services to take care of the consequences of abuse because they are uninsured.
  • The results of this study provided the health sector in Mexico with information to define identification-attention strategies of battered women and provided information about the importance of training health staff to generate trust among survivors of domestic violence.

Hijar, M., Avila-Burgos, L., Valdez-Santiago, R. (2006). “When Do Women Who Live With Domestic Violence Seek Health Services.” Salud Mental, 29 (6), 57-64. 


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For help please call:

The National
Domestic Violence Hotline:

1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

The New York State Spanish Domestic Violence Hotline:




©2007. National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence.
All Rights Reserved. Last updated 12/13/07.