Understanding and Addressing Violence Against Women Part 1 - Physical Health Effects

Elizabeth Alderson, therapist at DASAS, unpacks physical health effects survivors and victims, specifically women, face after physical abuse.

Violence has immediate effects on women’s health, which in some cases, is fatal. Physical, mental and behavioral health consequences can also persist long after the violence has stopped. Violence against women and girls occurs in every country and culture, and is rooted in social and cultural attitudes and norms that privilege men over women and boys over girls.

The abuse takes many forms, including:

  • intimate partner violence (sometimes called domestic or family violence, or spousal abuse) which can be physical, sexual or emotional; 

  • dating violence;

  • sexual violence (including rape) by strangers, acquaintances or partners;

  • systematic rape during armed conflict;

  • forced prostitution, trafficking or other forms of sexual exploitation; 

  • female genital mutilation (FGM) and other harmful traditional practices; 

  • dowry-related violence;

  • forced marriage or cohabitation, including forced wife inheritance and ‘wife kidnapping’; 

  • femicide and the killing girls or women in the name of ‘honor’;

  • female infanticide and deliberate neglect of girls.

The health consequences of violence can be immediate and acute, long-lasting and chronic, and/or fatal. Research consistently finds that the more severe the abuse, the greater its impact on women’s physical and mental health. In addition, the negative health consequences can persist long after abuse has stopped. The consequences of violence tend to be more severe when women experience more than one type of violence (e.g. physical and sexual) and/or multiple incidents over time.

If you need resources or help in any way, call our 24 hour hotline at 800-828-2023 or visit www.DASASMI.org.

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The mission of Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services is to lead efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault in southwest Michigan. 

We will assist domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in clarifying their options, accessing community services that support personal choice and will provide a safe place for survivors and their children.  It is our strong desire to walk alongside survivors on their journey, whatever that may look like. 

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