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In this study 49 women seeking hospital treatment for wife battering injuries were compared with 49 female alcoholics and a control group consisting of 49 women treated in hospital for accidents. At one time or another two-thirds of the female alcoholics had been battered and the majority of these women showed the same pattern of severe, prolonged abuse as the 49 women seeking hospital treatment for wife battering injuries. The women in these groups were also similar in that many of them had experienced violence in their own childhood environment, in that they had cohabited with more men than the women in the control group and in that the frequency of depressive symptoms was high. An analysis restricted to the battered women in each of the three groups revealed similarities between them. The battered women in the control group did not, however, show any signs of more severe psychopathology or alcoholism. It is concluded that mental health is of crucial importance for the woman's ability to break away from an abusive male.