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Keywords:

  • emotional abuse;
  • trauma;
  • violence;
  • injection drug use

Abstract

Introduction and Aims

Childhood emotional abuse is a known risk factor for various poor social and health outcomes. While people who inject drugs (IDU) report high levels of violence, in addition to high rates of childhood maltreatment, the relationship between childhood emotional abuse and later life violence within this population has not been examined.

Design and Methods

Cross-sectional data were derived from an open prospective cohort of IDU in Vancouver, Canada. Childhood emotional abuse was measured using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. We used multivariate logistic regression to examine potential associations between childhood emotional abuse and being a recent victim or perpetrator of violence.

Results

Between December 2005 and May 2013, 1437 IDU were eligible for inclusion in this analysis, including 465 (32.4%) women. In total, 689 (48.0%) reported moderate to severe history of childhood emotional abuse, whereas 333 (23.2%) reported being a recent victim of violence and 173 (12.0%) reported being a recent perpetrator of violence. In multivariate analysis, being a victim of violence (adjusted odds ratio = 1.49, 95% confidence interval 1.15–1.94) and being a perpetrator of violence (adjusted odds ratio = 1.58, 95% confidence interval 1.12–2.24) remained independently associated with childhood emotional abuse.

Discussion and Conclusions

We found high rates of childhood emotional abuse and subsequent adult violence among this sample of IDU. Emotional abuse was associated with both victimisation and perpetration of violence. These findings highlight the need for policies and programmes that address both child abuse and historical emotional abuse among adult IDU. [Lake S, Wood E, Dong H, Dobrer S, Montaner J, Kerr T. The impact of childhood emotional abuse on violence among people who inject drugs. Drug Alcohol Rev 2015;34:4–9]