Purpose: To assess the prevalence and different types of violence experienced by women prisoners in Brazil and the effects of violence on women's depression and illicit drug use. Methods: Participants (N = 377) were incarcerated women from a state prison in a northeastern city of Brazil. Multivariate logistic regression models (adjusted for age, education, partner status, prison history, drug related offense, and sentencing status) were used to assess associations between each type of violence (physical abuse, sexual abuse, and life threats) and each outcome variable: recent depression and illicit drug use. Results: The majority of participants (87%) reported experiencing some type of violence in their lifetime, including physical violence (83%), sexual victimization (36%), and threats on their life (29%.) Sexual violence was significantly related to both recent depression (Odds Ratio (OR) = 2.8; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.4-5.3) and recent substance use (OR = 2.7; 95% CI = 1.6-4.4) in adjusted models. Experiences of life threats were also significantly associated with illicit drug use (OR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.3-3.7), as was physical violence (OR = 2.4; 95% CI: 1.2-4.9); however, neither of these latter two violence variables were significantly associated with depression. Conclusion: Reports of lifetime violence victimization among this incarcerated sample of women were extremely prevalent and relevant to women's depression and illicit drug use. Prison efforts to address women's depression and illicit drug use may be most effective by incorporating aspects related to women's history of victimization, especially given the high rates of violence experienced by women in this sample. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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