Women's Health Matters

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Trauma is a women’s health issue

Interpersonal violence and trauma is a serious social problem and a women’s issue. (Men are also affected by interpersonal trauma, although they tend to experience different rates of traumatic events. For instance, girls tend to experience more sexual abuse in childhood while boys tend to experience more physical abuse. Men and women also differ in the effects of trauma, with men being more aggressive as a result of a history of trauma, while women internalize the effects such as through depression and anxiety.) The extent to which trauma is a women’s issue can be seen in the following sobering statistics:

  • 14 - 20 per cent of women will be raped at least once in their lifetime
  • 25 - 28 per cent of women will experience intimate partner violence
  • 8 - 24 per cent of women will be stalked by someone, either known or unknown to them
  • 25 - 35 per cent of women will have experienced sexual abuse in their childhood

Because violence and trauma are so pervasive, all women are affected by them, either directly or indirectly. Even women who don’t personally experience violence or trauma live in a society where it is too common, and where women are at greater risk than men. When some members of a society are more at risk than others, it contributes to inequality in that society. This creates a perpetual loop: our gender puts us at risk to be victimized and traumatized; while at the same time, that victimization and trauma reinforces our unequal social status. 

These experiences of trauma have an effect on women’s mental health. For example, a history of trauma is related to problems with depression, anxiety, relationships, sexuality, identity, feelings of self-worth, self-esteem and anger.


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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital