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Scand J Public Health. 2000 Sep;28(3):222-9.

Barriers within the health care system to dealing with sexualized violence: a literature review.

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Sweden.


The aim of this study was to review the literature about possible barriers to recognition and intervention regarding women exposed to sexualized violence, in their interactions with the health care system. The barriers, as reported by the health care staff, were: lack of education; the stereotype of a "typical battered woman"; too close identification with the victim/abuser; time constraints; fear of offending the victim/abuser; and feelings of hopelessness and non-responsibility. The barriers, as reported by the victims, were: negative experiences of and structural limitations within the health care system; fear of retaliation from the abusive partner; and psychological effects of the normalization process. We conclude that the barriers within the health care sector have to be dealt with on three different levels: the structural level in order to diminish male power in society; the organizational level in order to initiate screening and to allow the staff time for dealing with the victims; and on the individual level, health care staff need to acquire the knowledge and skills to enable them to address sexualized violence.

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