Health risk violence

Health damage caused by violence

Violence is a huge, often underestimated risk to health. Especially affected are women, children, patients who are dependent on care and people with disabilities. According to a study, in their dimension, damages to health which are caused by violence are comparable with diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Especially domestic violence is considered to be one of the largest risks to health for women worldwide. Studies prove that approximately 25% of all women from the age of 16 have already experienced sexual or domestic violence. (Study: ‘Living situation, safety and health of women in Germany’ by the Federal Ministry for Families, Senior citizens, Women and Youths, 2004) They had to suffer physical, emotional or sexual damage and pain.

The use of physical or sexual force on women and girls has different impacts on their health:

  • Injuries after physical abuse
  • Psychosomatic consequences and chronic pain syndromes
  • Psychological consequences, posttraumatic stress disorders, depression, fear, sleep disorders, panic attacks, eating disorders
  • Strategies which harm one‘s health – abuse of alcohol and drugs and medication

Diagnosis guide for doctors and therapists

The Round Tables in the district of Kleve organized in 2004 a day on the theme "Diagnosis: Domestic Violence" for doctors and medical professionals.

The result was a diagnostic guide for medical practice.

Tip: The White Ring provides information on the possibilities of taking over therapy costs according to domestic violence according to the Victims Compensation Act.

Victims of violence get chronically ill

Victims of violence can quickly get chronically sick if the connection from the symptom to the experience of violence is not established. This also applies to children who are victims or witnesses of domestic violence. For most of them the long-term experience of the disease means a considerable impairment of their living environment with corresponding negative consequences for their health development.

The fight against domestic violence places special demands on health care. Doctors, nurses and other occupational groups is a key to the affected women because of their proximity to the affected women and children. The treatments of injuries, as a result of domestic violence, are part of the working day in emergency rooms and many medical practices. Eliminating and forcing violence as well as adequately reacting in professional practice improve the possibilities for women and their children to reduce the health consequences of the exercise of violence. This also increases the protection against further violence.

Further information:

Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Gesundheit

Federal Ministry for Families, Senior citizens and Women and Youths, Ministry for Health

Study: "Living situation, safety and health in Germany"

Information about health and medical treatment for women affected by violence.



Feminist women's health centre at Cologne



Model project ‘Medical intervention against domestic violence.’Medizinische Intervention’



ASsociation for Intervention in the health sector against violence against women


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