Polyvictimization and Psychological Outcomes Among North Korean Refugee Women

Boyoung Nam, Yujin Lee, Charlotte Bright, Nalini Negi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Korean refugee women are at risk of multiple violent victimizations throughout the migration phases. However, migration's association with mental health outcomes has received little scholarly attention. This study examined North Korean refugee women's exposure to polyvictimization—exposure to both gender-based violence (GBV) and intimate partner violence (IPV)—and explored whether polyvictimization is associated with an increased risk of psychological symptoms. Data from a snowball sample of 212 North Korean refugee women were analyzed. Polyvictimization was operationalized as No victimization (0), Only GBV (1), Only IPV (2), and Both GBV and IPV (3). The associations between polyvictimization and depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and alcohol use disorder were analyzed with multivariate analyses. Results demonstrated that 46.2% experienced GBV in either North Korea or intermediary countries, and 30.9% were victims of IPV from their current intimate partner in South Korea. Approximately 25% were victims of both GBV and IPV. Multivariate analyses revealed that GBV was the most critical factor for mental health outcomes. North Korean refugee women with only GBV or GBV and IPV had significantly higher depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation severity than those without violence victimization. Risk of suicide attempt was also significantly higher among those with only GBV (OR = 16.52, p =.015) or both GBV and IPV (OR = 9.96, p =.048) than those without any violence victimization. Implications for future research and interventions among North Korean refugee women are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3726-3741
Number of pages16
JournalViolence Against Women
Issue number15-16
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by the Yonsei University Research Fund of 2019 (2019-22-0190).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Polyvictimization and Psychological Outcomes Among North Korean Refugee Women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this