Sexual violence against women affects mental, physical and sexual health

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Stress, depression and gynecological problems are some of the consequences of physical and sexual violence, a problem that affects 35% of women in the world.

“Sexual violence, specifically, generates very serious problems in general and mental health in particular,” said Dr. José Guillermo González, head of the Teaching and Training Department of the Jalisco Institute of Mental Health.

Because this situation has very important consequences for those who suffer from it, it is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a public health problem.

González indicated that, after a case of sexual violence, the victims generate an adjustment reaction -the first psychological reaction that the mind has to rape- with symptoms ranging from anxiety to psychotic.

The latter cause them to be “deprived of reality” which causes a serious difficulty to communicate, during the first hours, the act of violence they suffered.

After about two days of committing the rape, acute stress reactions occur. The victims generate a “hyper-alert” state in which they avoid places, situations or people that could evoke the traumatic event.

After the first month of the event until six months, victims can present the two most common reactions in people who have received sexual violence: a state of post-traumatic stress and depression that tends to be chronic.

Dr. González estimated that approximately 85% of cases of sexual violence are caused by a person known to the victim “who is in his environment, in the neighborhood, at work or at school, including his partner”, He said.

Therefore, after the rape by a close person, the victims doubt how to act in front of their aggressor and in front of their own body, which makes it difficult for them to take emergency measures to prevent a future pregnancy.

According to González, pregnant women due to sexual violence tend to develop long-term depressive reactions and rejection of the product.

The WHO in the document “Understanding and addressing violence against women” states that “victims of sexual violence have higher rates of gynecological problems than other women.”

For example, they may suffer from vaginal infections, pain during intercourse, chronic pelvic pain, or urinary tract infections.

In addition, “girls and women bear the most overwhelming burden of trauma and disease resulting from violence and sexual coercion.”

This is because they are “vulnerable to consequences of sexual and reproductive health” such as unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, during vaginal intercourse, says the WHO.

That is to say, “we have young women, with a profile of high fertility and who, in most cases, are being subjected to sexual abuse by friends, acquaintances, partners or ex-partners,” González explained.

He added that sexual harassment, although it does not generate “so easily” acute and post-traumatic stress, also gives rise to reactions of anxiety, depression and anguish crisis that are aggravated by the permanence in the space of harassment.

According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) of the 46.5 million Mexican women over 15 years of age, 66.1% (30.7 million) have faced some type of violence at some time in their lives.

Figures on violence against women can be reduced with a society “more equal, less polarized, sexualized and stigmatizing,” concluded Dr. José Guillermo González, since this would mean “respect for human rights and gender conditions within society “

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