OBJECTIVE: To assess the presence of psychopathological symptoms in women victims of domestic violence who seek help at police units offering women's protective services. METHODS: Women aged between 20 and 50 years who sought help at women's protective services complaining of domestic violence were assessed. During the interview, all participants were submitted to assessment using a Social Indicator Report and filled in the following self-report instruments: Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist - Civilian Version, and the Peritraumatic Dissociative Experiences Questionnaire (all in Brazilian Portuguese). Cut-off points were established based on instrument validation studies and were used to identify subjects with a high probability of having major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or high/low peritraumatic dissociation. RESULTS: Seventeen women with a mean age of 34.7±7.7 years were assessed. Average duration of exposure to domestic violence was 9.1±8.7 years. Of the total sample, 53% were exposed to excessive violence and 84% received death threats from their partners; 71% of the partners were drug abusers. In addition, 53% of the women reported exposure to domestic violence during childhood. From the total sample, 89% presented a high probability of having major depressive disorder, 94% anxiety disorder, 76% post-traumatic stress disorder, and 88% showed high scores of peritraumatic dissociative experiences. CONCLUSION: Victims of violence seeking help at women's protective services showed a high probability of having psychiatric morbidities cognitive dysfunction that prevent these women from interrupting exposure to this specific type of violence.
Battered women; dissociative disorders; post-traumatic stress disorders; domestic violence