I’m not usually one for statistics but I want to draw your attention to a really prevalent issue that is affecting women’s health and wellness in an epidemic way. First, let’s draw some comparisons:
- The odds of a woman getting lung cancer in her lifetime: 1 in 15
- The odds of a woman getting breast cancer in her lifetime: 1 in 9
- The odds of a woman being assaulted by her husband or common-law partner: 1 in 4
One in four women will be assaulted by her husband or partner in her lifetime. It’s astronomical. It’s sad. It’s frightening. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
Now just stop for a minute and think about that. That’s 25% of the women you know! And that’s just the numbers of women that we know about – that’s not the ones who are too afraid to report it. So we know that the actual numbers are higher than this.
I want to draw your attention to this very serious situation because it is so prevalent, and because most woman abuse does go unreported. This means that as the abuse escalates, as it typically does, no one knows about it! Women tend not to tell their doctors or ministers…but they may tell their friends. And we each have a responsibility to help women living in abusive situations as best that we can.
In my practice, I have worked with many women survivors of abuse (childhood and spousal abuse). The effects of the trauma are far-reaching and include, but are not limited to, symptoms such as:
- Gynaecological problems – abnormal periods, STDs, pelvic pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviours
Women often present to me for care for one or many of the above symptoms. During my time with them, I often discover that these symptoms are clearly related to previous abuse trauma.
The most rewarding thing for me in my 9 years in practice is working with women who have abuse histories and complex symptoms as a result…and witnessing their health improve, watching them return to happiness, seeing them embrace life once again. It truly fills my heart with joy.
But what can we do to stop woman abuse from occurring to begin with?
Clearly it is a complicated matter…but I think the first step is to start talking about it. We talk a lot about the odds of a woman getting breast cancer, dying of heart attack, etcetera, but we don’t discuss the issue of woman abuse. And woman abuse is far more common! One in four women will be assaulted by her partner, remember?
It’s time that we started. It’s time that we, as a community, shone a light on this issue once and for all.
Join me in support of the London Abused Women’s Centre Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign this November. Visit www.lawc.on.ca for all the details. Spread the word…shine the light…stop the abuse.