New book examines links between violence against women and mental health

The book, written and supported by international leaders in mental health and women's issues, provides the first comprehensive overview on this crisis, examining the links between violence against women and mental health and the underlying causes, as well as the implications of these findings for mental health policies and programs.

'Violence against women needs to be acknowledged as the global emergency that it is, requiring universal access to emergency and basic services, including psychological support,' said Michelle Bachelet, United Nations (UN) Women's Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, in her foreword to the book.

Violence against women and girls includes domestic violence, sexual abuse and trafficking, violence in humanitarian crisis settings, so-called honor killings, harassment in the workplace, forced marriage and genital mutilation. According to analysis of surveys from 86 countries, cited by Bachelet, between 9 and 76% of women report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

The mental sequelae of abused women can range from posttraumatic stress syndrome, anxiety and depression to substance abuse, dissociative disorder and suicide. But often, it is the women themselves who are blamed, and the culture that makes such violence acceptable is deeply ingrained. To date, psychiatry and psychotherapy have widely neglected violence as an influencing factor on mental health.

Violence against Women and Mental Health is essential reading for therapists and clinicians from varying fields, including psychiatry, psychosomatics, general medicine and gynecology. It is also an important reference book for sociologists and policy makers.

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