The Epidemiology of Physical Attack and Rape Among Crack-Using Women

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This prospective study examines the epidemiology of physical attack and rape among a sample of 171 not-in-treatment, crack-cocaine using women. Since initiating crack use, 62% of the women reported suffering a physical attack. The annual rate of victimization by physical attack was 45%. Overall, more than half of the victims sought medical care subsequent to an attack. The prevalence of rape since crack use was initiated was 32%, and the annual rate was 11%. Among those women having been raped since they initiated crack use, 83% reported they were high on crack when the crime occurred as were an estimated 57% of the perpetrators. Logistic regression analyses showed that duration of crack use, arrest for prostitution, and some college education were predictors of having experienced a physical attack. Duration of crack use and a history of prostitution were predictors of suffering a rape. Drug abuse treatment programs must be sensitive to high levels of violence victimization experienced by crack-cocaine using women. Screening women for victimization, and treating the problems that emanate from it, may help make drug abuse treatment more effective.

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