In the United States, over 20% of women have experience some form of gender-based violence. Gender-based violence includes rape and other forms of sexual assault, intimate-partner violence (such as spouse abuse) and stalking.
According to a new study, the effects of this type of violence can be experienced for the rest of the survivor’s life. Women who’ve suffered from gender-based violence are more likely to develop anxiety disorders or other mental woes, experience physical and mental disabilities, and have worse quality of life than other women.
The more violence a woman was exposed to, the greater her risk of developing mental illnesses, according to the study.
For example, about 15 percent of women who had been subjected to one form of gender-based violence experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But, if women were subjected to three or more forms of gender-based violence, that number jumped to more than 56 percent, the investigators found.
Suicide rates were significantly higher for women who’d experienced gender-based violence. The average rate of attempted suicide was 1.6 percent for all women in the study, but it was 6.6 percent for women who’d experienced one form of violence, and 34.7 percent for women exposed to three or more types of violence.
Rates of physical and mental disabilities were also much higher for women who had experienced gender-based violence. These women also tended to report an impaired quality of life.
What You Can Do:
If you or someone you know has experienced gender-based violence, there are ways to get help.
Women living in San Francisco can visit the LEAP (Looking to End Abuse Permanently) website, which can help you develop a safety plan. They also maintain a current list of resouces (PDF) for counseling, legal services, and shelters.
For more information about gender-based violence, visit The Hotline’s website.Study information via MedLine Plus.