Friday, August 5, 2011

Abused women have more mental health risk

Rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking increase the lifetime risk of mental health disorders among women, Australian researchers say.

Study leader Dr. Susan Rees of the University of New South Wales' School of Psychiatry and colleagues analyzed survey data of 4,451 women ages 16-85.

About 15 percent of Australian women report sexual assault, while 9 percent report being raped, 8 percent report physical intimate partner violence and 10 percent report stalking.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows the four most common types of gender-based violence are strongly associated with a wide range of problems for women, including more severe current mental disorder, higher rates of three or more lifetime mental disorders, physical disability, mental disability, impaired quality of life and overall disability.

"It was the strength of these associations that was most shocking. There is an overwhelming link between gender violence and key indicators of women's mental health, well being and risk of suicide attempts," Rees says in a statement. "For women exposed to two types of gender-based violence the lifetime rate of mental disorder was 69 percent and for three or more types of gender-based violence, it was 89.4 percent. This compares with a rate of 28 percent for women who have not experienced violence. The link with gender-based violence was particularly strong for post-traumatic stress disorder."

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