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Sex attack victims in mental health risk

WOMEN who have been sexually assaulted, abused by a partner or stalked may face high risks of depression and other mental health conditions, warns an Australian study.

The study of more than 4,400 women and was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 27pc said they had suffered from sexual or physical violence, or been stalked.

Those women were up to 11 times more likely to have had a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, with the risk climbing in tandem with violent experiences.

For women who had suffered at least three of four types of violence -- rape, other sexual assaults, physical abuse by a partner or stalking -- 89pc had a mental health condition at some point in their lives.

That compared with 28pc of women who said they had never experienced such violence.

"There are compelling reasons to support the strong likelihood that gender-based violence is a major contributor to mental disorders in women," said lead researcher Susan Rees, of the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

"The strong association with mental disorders shown in this study indicates that violence against women should be considered and responded to as a major public health problem."

The findings do not prove that the violence itself caused mental health problems, but Rees said it was likely.

hnews@herald.ie


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