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RTMXSHAKE: GBV and mental health

Its the penultimate day of 16 days of activism 2023 and we're talking something extremely important. We're talking about something that's not just a buzzword but a fundamental truth – our rights as human beings. You know, like liberty, security, and freedom – the essentials of our shared humanity. There are millions of women worldwide whose basic human rights are being violated and we have to continue to stand up and fight for them. Gender-based violence (GBV) can have devastating effects physically,emotionally and mentally. Today we're going to delve deeper into the psychological and mental impact of GBV.

GBV can have grave psychological consequences

The toll of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) on women's mental health is of great concern. Dive into the research, and you'll find a troubling pattern: those exposed to GBV face significantly higher rates of mental health disorders. It's not just a statistic; it's a stark reality. GBV encompasses intimate partner violence (IPV) and domestic abuse and can have grave psychological consequences serving as a catalyst to various mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, and post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Now, let's delve into GBV. and its profound impact on the lives and mental well-being of women. Firstly women grappling with GBV also experience higher rates of suicide attempts. Moreover, they tend to experience multiple forms of GBV over their liftetime. Research tells us that this sequential exposure heightens the risk of multiple forms of mental disorders. It's like a puzzle where each piece represents a different facet of the challenges these women face. The complexity of this connection demands our attention and there is an urgent need for attention and action.  

Alcohol dependence is15 times higher than in women who haven't faced GBV

To deal with distress caused by GBV, many will use coping mechanisms. Research lays it bare – women exposed to GBV are more likely to turn to cigarettes, alcohol, prescription meds, and even illicit substances. The dependency on alcohol can skyrocket up to 15 times higher than in women who haven't faced GBV.

GBV isn't just an outcome; it can be a precursor, predisposing women to mental disorders and complicating their journey. Additionally, women with mental health issues find themselves more susceptible to GBV, highlighting the need for a holistic approach that recognizes the intricate connection between GBV and mental health vulnerabilities.

GBV affects families and children

Finally, the impact of GBV doesn't stay confined; it can impact everbody around. It spills into family relationships. Children are often innocent witnesses to the emotional challenges of GBV and experience their own form of distress.

In this landscape of pain and resilience, we can't turn a blind eye. The statistics aren't just numbers; they're stories of real people navigating the complex intersections of GBV and mental health. It's a call to action, a reminder that our collective efforts can rewrite the narrative for these women and their families. As we navigate this complex terrain, let's break the silence, amplify the voices, and work towards a world where the shadows of GBV don't cast a looming darkness over the mental well-being of women and their loved ones.

Thank you for reading!

Dr Tomi Fasanya


Dr Tomi is a doctor currently training in psychiatry.


1.  Gender-based violence and mental health by Ines Zuchowski

2.  Gender-based violence and its association with mental health among Somali women in a Kenyan refugee camp: a latent class analysis. Mazeda Hossain1,  Rachel Jane Pearson, Alys McAlpine et al. Epidemiology & community health, Volume 75, issue 4

3.  5 Lemon, S., Verhoek-Oftedahl, W., & Donnelly, E. (2002). Preventive healthcare use, smoking, and alcohol use among rhode island women experiencing intimate partner violence. Journal of Women's Health & Gender-Based Medicine, 11(6), 555-562

4.  Brown P, Read J, Kahler C. Comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders: treatment outcomes and the role of coping. In: Ouimette P, Brown P, eds. Trauma and Substance Abuse: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment of Comorbid Disorders. Vol xiii. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2003:171-188

5.  New York times, How to address, overcome the impact of gender-based violence, Story by Joan Mbabazi

6.  Krug EG, Mercy JA, Dahlberg LL, Zwi AB. The world report on violence and health.  Lancet. 2002;360(9339):1083-108812384003

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