The Physical and Psychological Consequences of Gender Violence
The physical and psychological consequences for women who are victims of violence are multiple, they impede their at almost every level and manifest themselves in their mental and physical health.
Disorders such as:
- back or pelvic pain,
- gynecological disorders,
- pregnancies with complications,
- sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),
- central nervous system disorders,
- heart or circulatory conditions are common.
Beyond these ailments other “functional disorders” may appear, such as:
- irritable colon syndrome,
- fibromyalgia (a medical condition characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened pain response to pressure)
- digestive system disorders
- various chronic pain syndromes.
Women’s reproductive health can also be affected by violence.
The aftermath caused by physical abuse is evident, but the psychological impact and deterioration in women’s quality of life is more difficult to identify and evaluate. In order to establish the impact of the effects of violence against women on individual health and public health, an indicator based on the disability-adjusted life year has been established in the 1990s. This indicator allows doctors to calculate the number of years lost in relation to a theoretical life expectancy, which would determine the number of the loss of DALY that occur as a result of intimate partner violence. Physical harm has been considered to account for 55% of DALY lost, while “non-physical” referred to psychological and reproductive health account for 45%.
WHO sees abuse as one of the largest health and human rights issues. The WHO World Report on Violence and Health (Krug et al., 2002) summarizes its main psychological consequences:
- Depression and Anxiety
- Anxiety or anguish
- Phobias and Panic Disorder
- Mood changes
- You want to cry for no reason
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Eating and Sleep Behavior Disorders
- Psychosomatic Disorders
- Feelings of Shame and Guilt
- Self-Destructing and Self-Destructive Behaviors
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Low self-esteem
- Suicide or Suicidal Ideation
In the Women’s Institute of Spain (Violence against women. Macroencuesta III results. Madrid, 2006) noted the following: desire to cry for no reason, changes of mood, anxiety or anguish, sexual disattention, irritability, sadness to think that nothing is worth nothing, headaches, flu like back or joint pain, insomnia or lack of sleep and permanent fatigue.
There is a solution, but it is one that needs to be integrated at the society level, else, we will continue the cyclic pattern of violence we experience today.