One in three women worldwide experience violence, writes Dr. Miriam Stoppard, a really shocking statistic, but did you know that the effects can lead to diseases like diabetes and even cancer?
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Sexual violence against women is bad enough, but who knew it was a cause of long-term illness?
So while women can survive the experience of sexual violence, the lasting effects can come later in the form of diseases such as heart disease.
No one, it seems, had considered addressing these long-term consequences until Rebecca B. Lawn and colleagues at Harvard University in the US and Massachusetts General Hospital put two and two together.
The statistics are really shocking. One in three women worldwide reports violence committed by either a male partner (mental, physical, sexual) or a non-partner.
So far, researchers have focused on violence and its association with mental health. But there are connections to so much more – diseases like diabetes, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease and cervical cancer.
Sexual assault has been linked to an increased risk of hardening of the arteries, chronic sleep disorders and vascular disease in the brain that can lead to stroke.
We can’t ignore it. Male violence puts women at risk of the leading causes of death such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is widespread, affecting four out of five women worldwide.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is particularly bad for women’s health, increasing the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure. Hypertension is at the root of many other diseases, including cardiovascular disease and stroke. This American report calls for investigation of the impact of all forms of violence against women, including verbal and psychological violence.
With this in mind, we cannot ignore the sexual harassment of young girls in schools and of women and girls online.
Settings need to change. For example, neither the British Heart Foundation American Heart Association website or guidelines cite violence as a contributor to the development of cardiovascular disease in women. Why not?
Likewise the NHS fails to emphasize the link between a woman experiencing violence and her long-term health.
A crucial first step would be recognizing the prevalence of violence experienced by women and girls.
A clear second step would be to understand and address the impact of this epidemic on their long-term physical health.
A third step would be long-term research, health care and policy change that links the experience of violence to future health implications.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/sexual-violence-can-affect-womens-26377399 "Sexual violence can affect women's health for life and lead to serious illnesses" - Miriam Stoppard