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Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2013 Feb;27(1):15-26. doi: 10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2012.08.012. Epub 2012 Sep 10.

Health consequences of sexual violence against women.

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School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa.


Sexual violence can lead to a multitude of health consequences, including physical, reproductive and psychological. Some may be fatal, whereas others, such as unhealthy behaviours, may occur indirectly as a result of the violence. In total, these result in a significant health burden and should be considered by service providers, government authorities and non-governmental agencies. For women who present early, immediate care should be provided with plans for follow up. Mental-health interventions are important, as women who are sexually assaulted have the highest burden of post-traumatic stress disorder. Cognitive- behavioural therapy has been found to be effective for preventing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder, but psychological debriefing for preventing post-traumatic stress disorder is not recommended. Implementing a routine screening and intervention programme in obstetrics and gynaecology departments may be valuable, as reproductive health consequences are common.

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