According to estimates by the World Health Organisation, violence is one of the largest health risks for women in the world. When it comes to abusive partnerships, women are mainly the victims. One study states that at least one out of five women in Germany has experienced gender-specific violence in the course of her life.
Violence against women has complex and far-reaching health implications. This involves physical injuries ranging from bruises, haematomas, and abrasions, to bone fractures, organ failure, gunshot wounds and stab wounds, or burns. In Germany too, several women are killed by violent means every year.
Moreover, living in a relationship characterised by violence frequently causes psychosomatic disorders, such as cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal disorders, or headaches. Women affected by violence suffer more frequently from gynaecological problems and from problems during pregnancy and childbirth.
In addition, many cases are marked by mental disorders such as depression and suicidal behaviour. Women affected by violence are significantly more likely to engage in health-endangering acts and to consume more alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and medicines.
Doctors, health professionals, emergency ambulance services, and hospitals are often the only service providers that women affected by violence turn to. Hence the health care system is of key importance when it comes to intervention, arbitration, and prevention in cases of violence against women and their children. However, experience shows that, in the context of medical support, violence is only seldom recognised as a cause of the injuries and illnesses suffered by women.
Handout: Supporting women with mental disorders who are affected by violence, Association of Women’s Shelters in 2015 (PDF, in German).
”Health, Well-Being and Personal Safety of Women in Germany. A Representative Study of Violence against Women in Germany,” prevalence study by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Berlin 2004 (PDF).