Objectives: To examine the extent to which US women’s self-protection strategies are associated with either their personal or vicarious victimization experiences.
Design: A cross-sectional random digit dial telephone survey.
Setting: Continental United States.
Subjects: Non-institutionalized, English-speaking women, age 18 and older.
Outcome measures: Women’s self-protection strategies.
Results: 1800 US women were interviewed (response rate 73%). They were found to use a wide variety of strategies to protect themselves. Their reported self-protection strategies did not vary relative to their assessment of the safety of their neighborhoods, but 47% avoided doing things they needed to do and 71% avoided doing things they wanted to do because of their fear of victimization. Victimization experiences, either personal or vicarious, were associated with increased weapon ownership and carrying. Compared with those with no victimization experiences, those with both personal and vicarious experience were more likely to have guns (OR = 1.58, 95% CI = 1.08 to 2.29), carry weapons (OR = 2.67, 95% CI = 1.66 to 4.28), carry devices (OR = 1.57, 95% CI = 1.09 to 2.26), and use home strategies (OR = 1.92, 95% CI = 1.33 to 2.78), suggesting a cumulative impact of multiple types of exposure to violence.
Conclusions: Ultimately, this research may help to guide women in making decisions about their choices of self-protection strategies and may help to inform policies about what approaches US women will support. Examining women’s patterns of strategy selection in other cultural contexts could be valuable for identifying and promoting interventions acceptable to women.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Competing interests: None.
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