Suicide, mental health linked to sex abuse
Monday, August 08, 2011
WOMEN who have experienced rape or other
abuse have far higher rates of mental disorders and are up to 20 times more likely to attempt suicide than other females,
an Australian study showed Wednesday.
The findings, reported in the Journal
of the American Medical Association, showed a very strong association between exposure to gender-based violence and mental
disorder, said study leader Susan Rees.
"Based on other studies, we expected
there to be a correlation and an association, but the strength of it was particularly concerning," said Rees, from the School
of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales.
"Not only was there a higher rate
(of mental disorder) but there was also a greater severity."
Researchers analysed the results
of a national survey of 4,451 women aged 16 to 85 conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2007.
They looked at the four more common
types of abuse — physical violence by an intimate partner, rape, other sexual assault and stalking — and the rate
of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, and substance abuse.
"For women exposed to two types
of gender-based violence the lifetime rate of mental disorder was 69 per cent and for three or more types of gender-based
violence, it was 89.4 per cent," Rees said.
"This compares with a rate of 28
per cent for women who have not experienced violence."
Attempted suicide figures were
alarming with a 1.6 per cent attempted suicide rate for women never exposed to gender-based violence rising to six per cent
for women who had experienced one type and 34 per cent for those enduring three or four types.
Rees, a senior research fellow
at UNSW's Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit, said the analysis was the most comprehensive done in a nationally representative
sample and would therefore have relevance to other countries.
The data, which showed about 15
per cent of Australian women had reported sexual assault of some sort and eight per cent had reported being raped, was comparable
with other countries, she added.
"Gender-based violence is considered
a human rights violation against women," she said.
"We really did the research to
find out: is there anything that's working to address this? And if so, what is it?"
"There's not enough information
out there about the effectiveness of programmes and intervention. For all of us, we should be looking globally at trying to