Methods: We used quantitative data from the United Nations Multi-Country Study on Men and Violence, analyzing data on 3,105 women aged 18 to 49. The six countries participating in the study were Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and Sri Lanka. Initial logistic regressions were conducted followed by introducing moderators and mediators (i.e. education, employment, depression, other types of abuse, and attitudes about gender relations) to the model using path analyses to test the relationships between variables.
Results: Significant predictors of food insecurity included several types of abuse, partners’ employment, women’s own employment, and education. Experiences of economic abuse were associated with a 1.71 times greater likelihood of reporting food insecurity which was higher than experiences of psychological (1.58 times) or sexual abuse (1.62 times). These three types of abuse were also associated with depression; physical abuse was not found to be significantly associated with either food insecurity or depression. Formal employment of men was also associated with a decreased risk of economic abuse and food insecurity. From the mediated model, women’s experiences of economic abuse over their lifetime was significantly associated with an increase in depressive symptoms which in turn was associated with greater likelihood of experiencing food insecurity.
Conclusions & Implications: Such relationships uncovered by this research warrant attention to economic abuse and depression as part of the interventions used when working with survivors. Indeed, physical abuse was not significantly associated with food insecurity whereas psychological and sexual abuse were, though the effect size was smaller than for economic abuse. More research is needed to determine if such findings hold up in other samples since it could have implications for practice interventions as to how and when to intervene with “less visible” IPV experiences. Additional research could also determine how these variables interact together and how best to address the impact on survivors. Finally, this is one of the only large scale datasets to include measures of economic abuse; ideally, such measures will be incorporated into other nationally representative surveys of countries in order to better understand the scope and impact of the problem.