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New study finds: 1 in 3 women is abused

by , 21 June 2013

The first major global review of violence against women finds that nearly one in three have been physically or sexually assaulted by a current or former partner. These numbers are based on data from 1983 to 2010 from 86 countries worldwide, Health 24 reports. Read on to find out what the study found and the health consequences abuse has on its victims.

According to Health 24, author of the study, Dr Heidi Stockl from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, “our results underscore that women are disproportionately vulnerable to violence and murder by an intimate partner, and their needs have been neglected for far too long.”

In response, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr. Margaret Chan, called the shocking findings of abuse “a global health problem of epidemic proportions”.

In addition to this, a new study published in The Lancet found that 40% of all female murder victims worldwide are killed by an intimate partner.

According to the world health body, physical violence includes being slapped, pushed, punched, choked or being attacked using a weapon. The world health body defines sexual violence as feeling physically or mentally coerced into having sex or being compelled to engage in sexual acts that felt humiliating or degrading.

While the findings have highlighted the scourge of violence against women, it’s also cast a spotlight on the health implications of abuse.

According to WHO, victims of abuse have the following four health consequences

#1: Health effects of abuse can include headaches, back pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, limited mobility and poor overall health. And this can result in fatal or non fatal injuries.

#2: Intimate partner violence and sexual violence can lead to unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynaecological problems and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Meanwhile, intimate partner violence in pregnancy also increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies.

#3: Physical and sexual abuse can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep difficulties, eating disorders, emotional distress and suicide attempts.

#4: Sexual violence, particularly during childhood, can lead to increased smoking, drug and alcohol misuse and risky sexual behaviours later on in life. It is also associated with perpetration of violence (for males) and being a victim of violence (for females).

Finally, proof that abuse against women has serious short- and long-term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems for survivors and for their children that can lead to high social and economic costs.

So if you’ve been a victim of abuse, speak up and see a doctor or a psychologist to ensure the effects of abuse don’t have a lasting impact on your mental and physical health.

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